Carolyn Crumley, RN, MSN

clinical nurse specialist

Lee’s Summit

To the editor:

As the debate over health care reform continues, we need to enhance our focus on health promotion and wellness. In addition to coverage for health education and preventive services, we need to foster individual responsibility for health care.

Far too many patients harbor the attitude that their health-care providers are responsible for keeping them well. Patients need to accept responsibility for their lifestyle choices. Smoking, alcohol, drugs, sedentary lifestyles/lack of exercise, poor nutrition, overeating, stress – the list goes on.

Individuals also need to be aware of their medical conditions, knowledgeable about how to manage them, and adhere to related recommendations to the best of their ability. Patients should know (or have a list readily available) all of the medications that they are taking, including the purpose and dosage.

Diabetic patients should know their HgbA1C levels, and strive to maintain it in an acceptable range. Hypertensive patients should monitor their blood pressure, and patients with regularly monitored lab values should “know their numbers.” Caregivers have similar responsibilities for those not able to provide for themselves.

Nurses play an important role in health promotion and wellness. Advanced Practice Nurses can contribute greatly to continued awareness, counseling and education in these areas, through both individual patient interactions, and the development and implementation of communitywide programs. Our role in the health care must be acknowledged and strengthened, if we truly want to improve our current system.