The role of nurses in women’s health
In a year where COVID-19 has taken up so much space in health conversations across the globe, Women’s Health Week serves as a reminder to check in with the women around you.
Throughout history, nurses have been special attendants to women’s health matters – from assisting with labor and delivery, providing advice on the functions and disorders of women’s bodies, and tending newborns.
However, in today’s world, the role of nurses in women’s healthcare extends further than childbirth and tending babies.
Today, nurses are trained to diagnose and treat a diverse range of women’s health issues such as ovarian and cervical cancer, breast cancer, endometriosis, autoimmune diseases, depression and anxiety and heart disease.
21-year-old Tori Smith from Shepparton is currently completing her Diploma of Nursing (HLT54115) at GOTAFE and for as long as she can remember, she has wanted to help others.
“I had always wanted to become a nurse,” she said.
“I’m a person who likes change and keeping things interesting, I crave personal growth and love any opportunity to branch out and learn something new.”
Just like Women’s Health issues, nursing is full of complexities and is always evolving.
“Nursing combines my passion for helping people and new experiences into one, there is always something new to learn and a new challenge to overcome.
“Because nursing is such a generalised term there really is a place for everyone, whether you like the fast-paced rush of the emergency department or the joy of the maternity ward, your nursing experience is going to be completely different to someone else’s.”
Education makes a world of difference in regard to women’s health, and has played a huge role in shaping treatments available for certain issues pertaining to women.
According to Breast Cancer Network Australia, the current mortality rate of breast cancer is low – however, it has unfortunately not always been that way, which is something nurses and other medical professionals have played a huge role in.
Melissa Jackson is the Coordinator of Nursing and Aged Care at GOTAFE, and is playing a role in educating nurses and healthcare professionals – many of whom will assist in improving women’s health in the years to come.
“We have the opportunity as nurses to make a positive impact for women in regard to women’s health,” Melissa said.
“We know that access to healthcare is a barrier to women who live in regional Victoria, so it is important that we advocate for improved services for mental, physical and sexual healthcare to women.”
However, it is not only the health professionals who need to be educated about women’s health. We need to be supporting this education at an early age.
“Education provides women with the tools to make informed decisions about their own health and the health of their family” she said.
“It also enables them to possess the health literacy needed to navigate healthcare in today’s society and to speak up when things are not right.
“We need to continue making sure that we are providing education and access to healthcare for women of all ages that is in a safe environment.
“I’m very passionate about women’s health.”
With all this in mind, Melissa suggests that women need to be kind to and look after themselves this Women’s Health Week.
“Women put too much pressure on themselves to be the ‘be all and do all’,” she said.
“We can be our own worst enemies.”