What the Eyes Don’t See In Healthcare

Terah Ramsey
3 min readMay 10, 2021

Many people expect to just see nurses and doctors inside of hospitals or nursing homes, but many do not really how many nurses work outside of those kind of facilities. While a majority of nursing focuses primarily on seeing individual patients, public health nurses goes a bit farther. Public health nurses focus on examining community health. They care for the general public through a much broader lens compared to a typical nurse. These nurses are the unsung heroes of local disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and much more. While some believe public health does not need to be led by healthcare providers, training in public health is crucial for all providers because public health is limiting healthcare disparities by increasing equity and accessibility, providers are major advocates for their patients, and providers should be able to step back from the individual patient and look at the bigger picture.

Dr. Hanna-Attisha makes the case that fighting for health, equity and justice outside the clinic is an essential part of our roles as health care providers and public health professionals. Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s book, What the Eyes Don’t See provides valuable lessons for all readers, but particularly for those of us in medicine and public health. In both developed nations and developing worlds, public health has an essential role in illness prevention campaigns through local welfare organizations and non-governmental organizations Although the focus of her book is the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, her overall message is that we must always be observing for ways to fight the daily injustices that harm the most vulnerable individuals among us.

Aside from medical professionals, not many others have the influence to exercise as advocates for patients. Dr. Hanna-Attisha challenges her readers to look for the effects of social determinants on our patients and then consider possible solutions. She enquires us to look at the bigger picture outside of our patients and exam room walls for what we do not usually see. Medical providers that work in public health do work with individual patients, but are also greatly concerned with the health of the greater populations these individual patients belong to.

Public health attempts to monitor disease outbreaks, prevent injuries, and find reasoning as to why some of us are more likely to suffer from poor health than others. Public health is known as ‘the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals’. Modern public health practice entails multidisciplinary teams that are made up of public health workers and professionals. These professionals are physicians or doctors who are capable of providing medical care to patients, but who generally work to develop policies, provide education, and take other steps that helps improve the overall health of a population. While public health physicians and public health nurse serve individuals and families, they work to observe public health concerns and encourage awareness community-wide.

An effective and vigorous public health system can increase the health and well-being of people throughout the nation. Public health is all about encouraging health knowledge and guaranteeing patients have an active role in their own healthcare. That’s especially true in a time where misinformation is quickly spreading along, such as in What the Eyes Don’t’ See. In the ever changing world of healthcare, we must take Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s advice and make sure we are seeing the bigger picture outside of our exam rooms.