The Role Of Nurses In Adolescent Health and Family Support

Adolescence is a pivotal period of human development where individuals undergo significant emotional, physical, and psychological changes. It is a distinct developmental phase that requires specialized healthcare approaches. Nurses, being frontline healthcare providers, must navigate this complex terrain by delivering high-quality clinical care and forging meaningful relationships between adolescent patients and their families.

This article explores in-depth how nurses interact with adolescent healthcare. It covers the crucial role of nurses in providing comprehensive healthcare to address the diverse needs of adolescents across the US.

Understanding adolescent health

The role of nurses has evolved over the years beyond traditional clinical care. Today, Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are tasked with providing a more holistic and collaborative approach to healthcare. They act as educators, advocates, and facilitators for their patients.

With adolescents, their healthcare needs are unique and ever evolving. Therefore, nurses must consider the impact of mental and emotional wellbeing on physical health when assessing, diagnosing, and treating them. This holistic approach helps ensure they can provide comprehensive healthcare to these developing adults.

It is, therefore, no surprise that some of the highest-paid NPs work with adolescents. Registered Nurses (RNs) can grow their opportunities and skills as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) with Rockhurst University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. It takes less than three years to become an FNP through this course and enjoy a higher salary, personal fulfillment, increased flexibility, and numerous opportunities. Furthermore, as the accredited course is entirely online, working RNs can attain their degree while maintaining their work and personal life commitments.

How nurses interact with adolescent patients and their families

Engagement is a crucial component of adolescent healthcare that can be difficult to achieve. It is a balancing act that demands NPs to weigh both teenager independence and the role of a guardian or parent. After all, adolescent patients quickly become young adults in charge of their own health, and nurses must prepare for this.

How can nurses strike this balance? What steps can they take to ensure the parent or guardian is involved in a minor’s healthcare while fostering self-efficacy and independence? The next section of this article will dive into ways nurses interact with adolescent patients and their families.

Collaborative care

Physical health is interwoven with emotional and mental wellbeing. With adolescents, in particular, nurses must leverage the power of collaboration to provide more holistic and comprehensive care. They work with other professionals, including psychologists and nutritionists, to address the diverse needs of adolescents.

Equally, nurses must work hand in hand with the adolescent patients and their families. They can act as a bridge between the parents or guardians and the adolescent patient. This ensures the patient gets the support they need without compromising their privacy.

This collaborative care improves patient safety while providing emotional comfort during medical treatments. It opens the door to the development of more personalized care plans. It also ensures the patient and their family are adequately informed.

Health promotion

Beyond treating illnesses, nurses also help with health promotion. With adolescents, this includes instilling habits that contribute to long-term overall wellbeing. Nurses actively encourage adolescents and their families to adopt fitness initiatives, balanced nutrition including plenty of fruit and vegetables, and sufficient sleep.

Furthermore, nurses empower adolescents to trust their own capabilities. They emphasize early intervention, openness, flexibility, and low-threshold counseling. This helps adolescents understand that they can make healthy choices by themselves.

Through health promotion, nurses emphasize preventive care. This is a proactive approach that contributes to the establishment of lifelong healthy habits. These adolescent patients will carry forward the good habits that can also help keep the community healthy – they lead by example.

Communication techniques

Communication forms the bedrock of effective and efficient healthcare. It takes on added significance with adolescents who face unique challenges. Most adolescents will have problems discussing health issues such as substance abuse disorders, mental disorders, and more.

Nurses tend to employ tailored communication techniques that resonate with the unique challenges that adolescents face. They actively listen and encourage adolescent patients to speak up about any issues they might be facing. This helps establish trust, which makes it easier for nurses to address the specific needs or concerns of adolescents.

Finally, nurses help create a non-judgmental environment that facilitates open communication. They ensure adolescent patients and their families can actively talk about issues affecting them. This can be anything from health concerns to advice on potentially sensitive topics, such as sexuality.

Risk reduction and lifestyle education

Adolescents tend to engage in certain behaviors that may pose risks to their health. This includes engaging in risky behavior such as drug abuse, suicide attempts, substance abuse, and unprotected sex. However, they may not be fully aware of the health risks involved in such behavior.

In the US, approximately ten thousand adolescents lose their lives to mostly from preventable causes related to risky behavior. For example, unintentional injury is the leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year-olds. This includes poisoning (alcohol and drug overdoses), motor vehicle accidents (risky driving), and drowning.

Nurses take on the role of educators, providing information on potential risks and strategies for harm reduction. Discussions are usually centered on mental health awareness, substance abuse, and sexual health. This ensures they can make better lifestyle choices to safeguard their health and that of their families.

The bottom line

Nurses are instrumental in shaping the wellbeing and health of adolescents through a collaborative and comprehensive approach. They lay the foundation for a healthier and more resilient future generation by promoting healthy habits, addressing risk factors, empowering families, employing effective communication, and adopting a holistic view of adolescent health.