Promoting Health And Wellbeing As A Nurse



Nurses are an essential part of the healthcare system. On many occasions, they are the first people on hand to support and provide care for patients before other healthcare professionals are involved. A good example of this is how nurses promote health and wellbeing in their patients’ daily lives.

The World Health Organization defines health promotion as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health”. The process of enabling involves a variety of approaches and techniques.

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for nurses to promote health and wellbeing. In most cases, nurses respond to the needs of individual patients or groups by using approaches or techniques that are appropriate for the situation at hand.

This article focuses on some of the different approaches and techniques that nurses use to promote health and wellbeing. For those interested in pursuing a career in nursing, this article also explores the benefits of a degree in nursing and how it can help you advance in the workplace.

Now that we’ve established that nurses perform an essential function as frontline workers in the healthcare system, let’s explore how they promote health and wellbeing in their patients.

Five approaches to health promotion


A medical, or preventive, approach aims to decrease illness and early death through medical interventions. The approach can be targeted toward whole populations or at-risk groups. Examples of this approach in action include immunization programs, such as vaccine drives for whole populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and routine screening for older people deemed at risk for diseases such as cancer.


A behavioral approach aims to encourage people to embrace healthy lifestyle behaviors. In practice, nurses using this approach would give one-on-one advice sessions to their patients, enabling them to make healthier choices in areas such as alcohol consumption, diet, losing weight, mental wellbeing, physical activity and smoking.


An educational approach aims to give people appropriate information and knowledge so that they can make informed choices about their health. This approach includes mass-media campaigns – the Food and Drug Administration’s ‘The Real Cost’ campaign aims to educate 12 to 17-year-olds on the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes – and giving leaflets, presentations or online information. While similar to the behavioral approach, the educational approach is more about nurses giving information to patients in the form of leaflets and presentations than giving advice on a one-to-one basis.


An empowerment approach aims to help people highlight their own health priorities, giving them the resources to enable change. It includes assistance in enabling and organizing people to work with each other to underline their health needs as a group. This approach could be particularly helpful when working with groups that identify with categories such as ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

Social change

A social change approach aims to make health-promoting changes from the top down. This means that it is put into place by governments and organizations to bring about change within people’s social and environmental conditions. Pushing for healthy public policy and organizational changes in health services would be examples of this.

The aim of nurses adopting these approaches is to enable and ultimately improve a patient’s overall quality of life. Many of the approaches overlap, and some, especially the social change approach, are enacted by governments or organizations rather than individual nurses. Even with social change, though, nurses are essential in putting this approach and its policies into practice in settings such as hospitals.

Now that we’ve covered five of the main approaches to health promotion, let’s look more into the behavioral approach. This will help you to understand how nurses promote health and wellbeing for their patients on a one-to-one basis in their daily practice.

Promoting healthy behaviors

A behavioral approach encourages patients to adopt healthier habits, such as eating nutritious foods and exercising more. Nurses are in a good position to enable patients to make better decisions about their health and adopt healthy behaviors. Given that nurses often work on a one-to-one basis with their patients, adopting a behavioral approach to health promotion can be a very effective technique to improve a patient’s quality of life.

The following list includes common areas that nurses can explore with patients when adopting a behavioral, lifestyle-based approach to promoting health and wellbeing:

  • Helping people to stop smoking.
  • Improving diet and losing weight.
  • Increasing physical activity.
  • Reducing alcohol consumption.
  • Improving mental wellbeing.

Helping people to stop smoking

Most people are now aware of the harmful effects of tobacco and smoking cigarettes. Nonetheless, it can be extremely difficult for a person to quit smoking. Nurses are in an ideal position to encourage their patients to quit. By talking with their patients, nurses gain a better understanding of how to encourage smoking cessation. Factors such as age, the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and how many years a person has smoked all add to a nurse’s knowledge of their patient. By understanding their patient’s smoking history and the possible motivations for quitting, a nurse can provide unique advice and information tailored to the individual.

Improving your diet and losing weight

What we eat has a major impact on our health and wellbeing. One of the most important and popular ways for nurses to promote health and wellbeing is by educating patients on healthy eating and recommending healthy foods. Eating nutritious foods and not overeating are linked to many health benefits, including weight loss to tackle obesity and the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Nurses are a key source of information and encouragement when it comes to educating and motivating people about healthy eating. The one-to-one nature of a nurse’s role and their knowledge of their patient again puts them in an ideal position to advise on healthy diet and weight loss behaviors.

Increasing physical activity

Our levels of physical activity also have a major impact on our health and wellbeing. Along with healthy eating, promoting physical activity is one of the most common ways that a nurse promotes health and wellbeing in their patients’ lives. Increasing physical activity is one of the best things that a person can do to improve their health. Being more physically active has enormous benefits not only for the body but also for the mind. Increasing your physical activity – from walking to cycling and any other ways that you can think of – not only makes it easier to lose weight and improve bodily functions, but also makes you feel better mentally. Nurses can work with their patients to create a plan of action for increasing physical activity, taking into consideration factors such as age, weight and pre-existing health conditions.

Reducing alcohol consumption

There are so many benefits to cutting down on alcohol. Some immediate effects of reducing alcohol consumption include feeling better (and not hungover) in the mornings, having better-looking skin, and better weight management. More long-term benefits include enhanced mood, better sleep, and improved bodily functions such as the heart and immune system. If a patient wants to cut down on their alcohol consumption, a nurse can help them make a plan encouraging them to reduce the amount of alcohol they drink each week.

Improving mental wellbeing

All of the behaviors mentioned above – smoking, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption – can contribute to ill health. While those behaviors can have a significant impact on the body, it is worth noting that they can also have an effect on the mind. Physical health and mental health are connected. If a person is drinking too much, then it might cause them to feel anxious or sad. If they are already feeling anxious or sad, then it might cause them to drink more, creating a cycle of unhealthy behaviors. Nurses know the importance of mental wellbeing and can help patients manage stress, anxiety and depression.

Using plain language

We have looked at some of the techniques that nurses use to promote health and wellbeing. One technique that might be overlooked in promoting health and wellbeing is the use of plain language. While it may not be the most obvious technique, its importance cannot be overstated. It is not only important what a nurse says to their patient, but also how they say it. Communicating messages clearly and concisely makes it much easier for patients to understand and use health information.

Using everyday words instead of public health jargon makes it easier for patients to understand information and improves their health literacy. This is even more important for individuals whose first language isn’t English. Language barriers can be difficult to overcome in any context, but in the context of healthcare, it is vital that nurses communicate in a way that is easy to understand.

The benefits of promoting health and wellbeing

There are many benefits to health promotion. Chief among them is the goal of improving people’s health and wellbeing. The behavioral approach to health promotion is one of the best ways that a nurse can support their patients. The advice that a nurse gives is unique to each patient and can have a direct effect on their quality of life. By helping people change their behavior, nurses provide an invaluable service to both their patients and the healthcare industry. By engaging in conversations and giving one-on-one advice that’s specific to each patient, nurses are able to create a deeper trust between patients and healthcare professionals. A patient is more likely to respond to advice given by a healthcare professional if they think that their specific health needs and priorities have been considered.

The benefits of a career in nursing

Considering the essential and positive role that nurses play in patients’ lives, and the job satisfaction from helping and working directly with others, it’s no wonder that nursing is seen as an attractive career. If you have ever wanted to be a nurse but don’t know where to start, an education in nursing is the ideal first step toward becoming one. There is a wide array of education and training options available to prospective nurses. A common route is to complete a bachelor’s degree, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to be specific. While a BSN is a good option for those who have graduated high school and are ready to study for their first degree, it is not the only option for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree and might be thinking about a change in career.

What are your options?

If you’re considering a career in nursing but don’t like the thought of spending four years enrolled in a degree program, then think again, as there is another option. An ABSN program allows you to complete a nursing degree in a fraction of the time that it typically takes to complete a bachelor’s degree. Before looking into how this is possible, let’s first answer the question, what is ABSN? And if you are interested in finding out more about ABSN programs, then read Rockhurst University’s blog post, which is linked to above.

An ABSN, or Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing, is a degree program that enables students to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a much shorter timeframe than a BSN. An ABSN is designed specifically for people who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. To be eligible for an ABSN, you must already hold a bachelor’s degree, whereas to be eligible for a BSN, you need to hold a high school diploma. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, then an ABSN is a great option to put you on the path to a nursing career. There are international nursing agencies that can help you choose the right path.

Whereas the program length of a BSN is typically four years, an online ABSN program – such as the one at Rockhurst University – may take as little as 15 months. The semester hours for an ABSN (approximately 60) are less than half of a BSN (approximately 128), meaning that an ABSN is an attractive pathway to a nursing career for individuals who have already spent four years in full-time schooling.

Program length, semester hours and eligibility requirements are the fundamental differences between an ABSN and a BSN, yet there are a lot of similarities between the two. A BSN gives students access to clinical settings, and the same goes for an ABSN. The theory that a student learns on their course is put into practice during clinical hours in settings such as hospitals, private medical practices and nursing homes. The National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) applies to both programs and is taken by students upon graduation. Both ABSN and BSN students are given the opportunity to join the nursing community and foster connections with nursing experts and peers. The networking options available to students on an ABSN program mean that they can learn while making connections that last a lifetime.

ABSN degree programs are often less expensive than the equivalent BSN. Added to the shorter program length, this makes an ABSN even more attractive to individuals with a bachelor’s degree pursuing a career in nursing. An ABSN not only gives you an advantage when entering the job market after completing your studies, but also equips you with the necessary knowledge and skills to have a successful career in nursing.

Wrapping up

If you meet the eligibility requirements, then there could be no better time to advance your career with a hybrid ABSN program. You could be starting your journey in no time – why not look into enrolling on a course today?