What is Community-Based Nursing? A Look at a Key Care Philosophy

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Master of Science in Nursing

A nurse reviews test results with a patient.

Nurses play an integral role in the health care field, positively impacting individual patients as well as communities. Community-based nurses fulfill a particularly important need by serving people who may have limited access to health care. Leaders in the field of community-based nursing understand the importance of recognizing community trends, demonstrating cultural awareness, and implementing appropriate health care strategies. They develop specialized skills so they can assist individuals in communities with health promotion, disease prevention, and restorative care.

Students interested in learning what community-based nursing is may want to consider exploring programs such as an online Master of Science in Nursing. An MSN program can enable students to build the core competencies in critical thinking, communication, and cultural awareness that they need to excel as leaders in community-based nursing.

What Is Community-Based Nursing?

Community-based nursing allows medical professionals to address the needs of individual members of a community. Like individuals, communities differ from one another, with members of varying ages, cultural backgrounds, abilities, and health conditions. In community-based nursing, nurses implement various proactive programs in areas such as health education, disease prevention, and restorative care that can lead to healthier communities.

Registered nurses who have gained experience and furthered their education can work in autonomous positions as community-based advanced practice nurses. One aspect of an advanced practice nurse’s role is to share information with patients that will help them achieve and maintain physical and mental wellness. These nurses understand the impact optimal health can have on the quality of life and productivity of the individuals they serve in primary care settings.

Nurse Leaders and Community-Based Nursing

Community-based nursing leaders build comprehensive care strategies that can make a positive impact on a community’s health. One way nurses do this is through helping individuals in communities better understand how to prevent diseases. Nurses can identify health problems and determine how best to educate individuals about how they can address these problems. To effectively connect with the patients they serve and develop care-driven plans, nurses should have a strong understanding of a community’s socioeconomic and cultural characteristics, such as religious beliefs. Nurses must also be aware of how these characteristics can change over time.

Health care approaches can vary from group to group within a community. Nurse leaders might advocate for different kinds of physical activity for younger people than for older people in a community, for example. The prevalence of certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes, within a community also will influence health care priorities.

Though they view health from a community perspective, community-based nurse leaders work individually with patients to help them develop specialized health plans for increased wellness.

Essential Skills for Effective Community-Based Nursing

Several skills are considered fundamental to becoming an effective community-based nurse. Critical thinking is a key component of a nurse practitioner’s job. From diagnosing illnesses to prescribing medications as allowed under state licensing rules, nurse practitioners need to be able to make important decisions regarding the treatment of their patients. Another vital skill is interpersonal communication, as nurse practitioners must be clear and direct when relaying crucial information to physicians, nurses, patients, and the families of patients. Since nurse practitioners work one-on-one with many patients, they need to be detail-oriented and organized. Medical professionals should cultivate a sense of cultural awareness when working with diverse populations, and successful nurses work to develop empathy and patience.

Registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing can develop these skills through Regis College’s online Master of Science in Nursing and pursue a career as a community-based nurse practitioner. Courses pertaining to topics such as community-based nursing, nurse leadership, nursing research, and health policy can help students gain expertise and become effective nurse leaders.

Pursue a Community-Based Nursing Career

Nurses seeking to promote wellness and improve health outcomes may consider a career in community-based advanced practice nursing. With courses that help students develop critical-thinking skills and effective decision-making, Regis College’s online Master of Science in Nursing program prepares nurses for an advanced practice role in primary care as community-based nurses. Graduates are equipped to work in hospitals, community health organizations, primary care offices and clinics, home health services, government organizations, and nurse-led practices, among other facilities. Explore how Regis College’s online Master of Science in Nursing program can help students pursue careers in community-based nursing.

Recommended Readings
How Nurse Practitioners Can Become Community Advocates
How to Develop and Maintain Social Justice in Nursing 
Nursing in a Clinic vs. Hospital Setting: What’s the Difference? 

International Journal for Equity in Health, “What Is the Role of Cultural Competence in Ethnic Minority Consumer Engagement? An Analysis in Community Healthcare”
International Journal of Nursing Sciences, “A Review of Advanced Practice Nursing in the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), China”
Israel Journal of Health Policy Research, “Nurses in Expanded Roles to Strengthen Community-Based Health Promotion and Chronic Care: Policy Implications from an International Perspective; A Commentary”
National Association of County and City Health Officials, Community Health Assessment and Improvement Planning 
Nurse Key, Community-Based Nursing Practice
Nursing Forum, “Understanding How Advanced Practice Registered Nurses Function as Patient Advocates”
Orthopedic Nursing, “Healthcare Transformation and Changing Roles for Nursing”