This book is about community nursing theory, knowledge and skills. It is based on our research into education for primary health care, community nursing roles, practice and policy in Australia (Keleher, 2000; St John, 1991, 1997), together with many years of teaching community nursing and public health. The book also draws on the knowledge, research and expertise of leading and emerging researchers, academics and experts in Australia to develop a comprehensive exploration of the theory, knowledge and skills required for successful and effective community nursing practice in a range of practice settings. We have written this book because, despite international literature being available, little current material has been available to inform teaching and practice in community nursing in Australia. We wanted to write a book that would be useful for undergraduate and postgraduate nursing students, as well as practitioners already working in the field.
This book is based on the premise that community nursing is an area of specialty nursing practice and that nurses require a specific body of knowledge to work effectively in a community setting. Community nursing practice, as it is described here, has a breadth that is beyond a medical model approach. It is not just health teaching or sick care provision in a different place; rather, it encompasses a social model of health, and has been generated from community models of practice, whether services are being provided for individuals, families, groups or whole communities. Community nurses work with many different client groups, community settings and types of agencies, and they often possess additional areas of specialty knowledge. These added specialties can sometimes splinter community nursing and obscure the distinctive body of knowledge and expertise that the field represents. Because this knowledge is often not articulated, expertise in community