Pam Ruis, a Registered Public Health Nurse with Minnesota Visiting Nurse Agency, talks about her job.
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
A: The evening before, I call each patient to set up a home visit time for the following day. I check the computer for changes in each patient's condition and coordinate my schedule around the metro. I work 12-hour days, starting at 5:30 or 6 a.m. and carry a caseload of about 40 patients. I set up medications, do wound care, draw blood for laboratory tests, perform IV infusions, and do a lot of teaching and coordination. As a public health nurse, I am acutely aware of my surroundings to determine if anybody is in danger from a medical condition or neglect. I spend 20 minutes to more than an hour with each patient. I am also expected to keep very accurate and up-to-date information on my patients.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger healthcare picture?
A: I work with patients to promote healthy lifestyle changes, good health and positive outcomes. I always try to ensure that patients understand their disease process and how to overcome it and/or live with their chronic health problems.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
A: I interact with patients, families, physicians, nurses, insurance companies, laboratory staff, social workers, physical therapists, my manager, a licensed practical nurse with whom I work closely, home health aides whom I supervise, adult and child protection agencies, and sometimes the police.
Q: Why did you become a public health nurse?
A: I always had a desire to become a nurse. Having been a teacher has benefitted my nursing career. Education is so important, especially to the disease process.
Q: What do you like about your work?
A: I really like the flexibility. It has allowed me to blend work and family together. Every case is different and provides new opportunities to educate people.