The Nurse Role in Infectious Disease/Epidemiology
Many health departments are now utilizing nurses in the epidemiology role. A nurse’s educational background and holistic viewpoint of the client/population he/she serves contributes significantly to a career in epidemiology. The nurse may utilize clinical based and pathophysiological knowledge of disease processes in order to quickly identify a disease causing agent or potential outbreak. In addition, a nurse’s assessment and educational skills are valuable when obtaining information from the client or while designing and implementing educational programs for the community.
Ariane Reeves is a nurse epidemiologist at the DeKalb County Board of Health. She has served as the coordinator of the Office of Infectious Disease (OID) at the DeKalb County Board of Health. Ariane also serves as member of the Epidemiology Team at the DeKalb County Board of Health. As a member of the team, she is involved in case investigations and contact tracings within the DeKalb community. Qyen Phan is also a nurse who currently works in the OID as a public health liaison. Her duties include maintaining relationships between primary care doctors and hospitals through out the community. Collaboration among primary care doctors, hospitals and the LHD are imperative when detecting disease outbreaks and providing education to the public. Through effective communication, a disease outbreak may be detected and treated earlier, patient education regarding a specific disease is practiced and standardized, and sensitivity to diagnosing a particular disease is increased.
The job description below was listed on a public health website. The posting was seeking a nurse epidemiologist to work in a health department in Anchorage, Alaska. This description clearly illustrates a nurse's role in the field of epidemiology.
Provide and/or support services to teams conducting epidemiological investigations of bioterrorism, infectious disease outbreaks, and other public health threats or emergencies and advise or implement appropriate control measures. Research, design, implement, and evaluate surveillance activities for bioterrorism, infectious disease outbreaks, and other public health threats or emergencies in order to prevent unnecessary morbidity and mortality. Provide a basis for policy development, health planning, and allocation of Health and Human resources for community health and safety.
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