Health Advice from the Library Nurse: Laugh Every Day

"We all need to believe that someone cares."
-Mary Frances, Library Nurse

Since 2012, the Pima County Public Library and the County Health Department have partnered to provide the Library Nurse Program. Public health nurses visit libraries throughout the County offering health checks, providing medical information, and giving referrals to local services. The award-winning program has become an innovative and inspiring model for public libraries and the Public Health Nursing field.

We talked with Public Health Nurse Mary Frances who works at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library downtown to find out why she became a nurse and what she enjoys about working at the Library.

How long have you been a nurse? What is it about being a public health nurse that you enjoy the most?
It seems like I have been a nurse for my entire life. It started with the care of my nine younger siblings and my parents, who had many medical problems. It progressed to nursing school, and I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1977. I have had the opportunity to experience many different types of nursing, including hospital, clinic, office, and urgent care.

I love interacting with people and making connections. The allure of Public Health Nursing is getting to utilize all past learning experiences and share them with everyone.

What’s been the reaction of library customers who meet you in the library?
Library customers seem to be intrigued that a nurse would be outside of a medical office or facility and be able to give them health advice.

Why do you think the library nurse program has been successful?
I believe patrons appreciate being able to discuss their concerns in a non-clinical atmosphere with someone they have begun to recognize and trust. The nurse acknowledges them for who they are, actually listens to them, asks how they are dealing with the situation, reinforces good judgments, and offers suggestion and solutions to problems. There are some situations that health interventions are not enough. Patrons appreciate having someone listen to them and advocate for them.

We all need to believe that someone cares.

Do you have one tip that you give to people to help them improve their health?
Take care of yourself with simple rules:

  1. Get enough rest
  2. Drink water
  3. Kick bad habits
  4. Reduce bad habits like smoking and drinking.
  5. Laugh every day.

If you weren’t a nurse, what would you be doing?
I would have a daycare bringing older adults--like grandparents--and children together.

Check the Events calendar or Ask a Librarian to find out the times and library locations that the Public Health Nurses are visiting. Appointments are not necessary.

And be sure to take a look at the MedLinePlus Health Information Library to read articles, watch videos, and use some other cool tools to improve your health. All you need is your library card.