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MSN Course Insight: A Nurse’s Role in Preventing Infectious Disease

Study alongside Walden University students with this required reading taken from the Master of Science in Nursing course Role of the Nurse—Public and Global Health.

Between 1980 and 2014, over 4 million Americans died from infectious disease.1 The biggest killer was lower respiratory infections, followed by diarrheal diseases, HIV/AIDS, meningitis, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. But infections don’t have to be killers to cause problems.

During the 2017–2018 influenza season, an estimated 48.8 million Americans fell ill, with nearly a million of them requiring hospitalization.2 It was a massive outbreak that affected every state and region. No doubt, in your career in nursing, you’ve seen the toll infectious disease can take. And no doubt, you’re eager to do what you can to prevent infections.


But what can you do? Public health expert Marcia Stanhope has some examples of the roles nurses play in preventing infectious disease, which she features in her book Public Health Nursing: Population-Centered Health Care in the Community. Studied as part of Walden University’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) course Role of the Nurse—Public and Global Health, Stanhope’s examples offer a good overview of the many roles you could play.

Stanhope writes:

Prevention is at the center of public health, and nurses perform much of this work. Examples include immunizations for vaccine-preventable disease, especially childhood immunization and the monitoring of immunization status in clinic, daycare, school, and home settings. Nurses work in communicable disease surveillance and control, teach and monitor bloodborne pathogen control, and advise on prevention of vector-borne diseases. They teach methods for responsible sexual behavior, screen for sexually transmitted infection, and provide HIV disease counseling and testing. They screen for TB, identify TB contacts, and deliver directly observed TB treatment in the community.

If you want to do more to prevent infectious disease, you can take on any of the above roles or any other role that helps keep infectious disease from taking a toll. Some roles, like counseling patients about vaccines, you may already do as part of your nursing career. But other roles require you to have additional expertise—expertise you can acquire in an MSN program.

By earning a Master of Science in Nursing, you can gain the advanced knowledge and skills you need to work as a nurse leader, whether you want to go into public health nursing, nursing management, or nursing education; become a nurse practitioner; or take on any other role where you can help prevent infectious disease.

While earning an MSN degree does require you to already be a registered nurse, taking that step is less complicated than you might expect, thanks to online education. When you choose an online nursing school for your master’s degree in nursing, you can complete your coursework from home or from anywhere else you have internet access. You can also attend class at whatever time of day works for you, since online MSN programs offer flexible scheduling. It’s a system designed for working professionals, and it’s one reason why master’s in nursing online programs have become so popular, with Walden University’s online learning-based master’s in nursing program producing more MSN graduates than any other school.3

By earning your MSN degree, you can learn how to do more to prevent infectious disease. It could be the best choice you’ve ever made for your nursing career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an Master of Science in Nursing degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Retrieved July 2017, using CIP code 51.3801 (Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse). Includes 2016 preliminary data.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,