Nurse Patrols Frontlines of Preventive Care

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media , February 22, 2011

So Renny initiated "shot parties" to immunize college-bound kids in their homes. A parent gets a group of friends together and Renny organizes a clinic in the parent's house to vaccinate all the students at the same time.

Renny has taken vaccination clinics to movie theatres, the Detroit Zoo, and major league baseball stadiums. She spends time taking health screening and vaccination clinics to worksites. She also offers screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, body fat, etc.

"It's all about getting people to start thinking about where they are and what their numbers are and what they can do to either improve their numbers so that they are within normal range, or what they can do to keep themselves in those ranges," she says. "It's about educating about behaviors that can prevent future problems."

Renny has to educate people every day, particularly to counter fear and distrust about vaccinations. She says that Americans no longer see the diseases such as polio that used to scare people. "But it's a global world and every disease is one plane trip away," she says. "As nurses, we get to educate people and help them see the value of that prevention. Vaccinations are one of the best things we've done for ourselves as a preventative measure."

Like 79% of her nursing peers, Renny has a positive view of the growing role of mid-level providers in primary care.

"When I decided to become a nurse, people said to me, 'why don't you go to medical school?'" she says. "I said because as a nurse I get to care for you, I get to help you care for yourself. Physicians do that as well, but they have to focus on taking care of the immediate need. As nurses, we have that opportunity to help people care for themselves and that's not just with the issue at hand, but helping them take care of themselves so they don't have issues in the future."

Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at

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