Public Health Nurse

Population based public health nursing

In the past, public health practice delivered individually focused and illness centered care to the medically indigent and older population through the use of primary care medical clinics and community-based home care programs. However, things have changed in the field of public health.  Today, there is a renewed focus on health promotion and prevention programs aimed at the population of people as a whole (Committee for the Study of the Future of Public Health, 1988).

The shift in public health practice from primary care to a more holistic, preventative, and population based practice is beginning to transcend into public health nursing education and practice (Keller, 2002). Today’s PHNs make up about 15-20 percent of the public health workforce and are trained to provide population focused nursing (Association of State and Territorial Directors of Nursing, 2002). At the population level, PHNs conduct population focused assessments, develop and implement health action plans and initiatives to address disease prevention and health promotion, work toward policy development to legitimize population interventions, and assure that services are available to the communities and individuals (Baldwin, Conger, Abegglen & Hill, 1998).

Population focused nurse training provides PHNs with an array of skills and knowledge that may be beneficial to the field of emergency planning and response, epidemiology, environmental health, and occupational health.  The remainder of the website will discuss the diverse fields of public health that focus on population based services.  In addition, the role of a PHN in each field is also described.