Public Health Nursing: Readers Comment

Feb 29, 2012, 7:34 PM, Posted by

Earlier this month, we reported on a convening of experts to better understand, define and chart a future course for the field of public health nursing. Shirley Orr, MHS, APRN, NEA-BC, a public health consultant and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow, shared her thoughts on the evolving roles of public health nurses, the value of nurses for advancing population health goals and more.

We asked readers and event attendees to weigh in on the potential opportunities in public health nursing, and the responses we heard were insightful and lent aninteresting perspective on moving the field forward. Some excerpts from the comments include:

  • "I reaffirm the need for public health nurses to have opportunities for further skill development, particularly in the leadership arena. PHNs are trusted by their communities and have such great potential to lead community health improvement efforts; however, they often lack the skill and confidence to engage 'grass top' leaders." – Julie Willems Van Dijk
  • "We need to work carefully to document the effectiveness of PHNs in roles that benefit from that unique combination of public health knowledge and clinical judgment/expertise." – Susan Swider
  • "We are finding that community health assessment (MAPP, in our case in Homer, AK) is a natural outgrowth of the community-wide relationships that PHN's have over time. PHN's are respected and thus able to confront community barriers to change, building consensus to address unmet needs and to address disparities." – Sharon Whytal
  • "Public health nursing provides the essential framework & skill set required for successful integration of the whole person into the family & community." – Kindra Mulc

Another attendee, Janet Zoellner, recorded her thoughts on her blog, Nursing...Public Health Style. From her blog post on the Forum: "A lot of attention was drawn to the profession's relative inability to articulate why a public health nurse should serve in their community... We need a dose of bravado." She concluded with a call to action: "Whether it is systems work, education partnerships, community coalitions, etc. it all still boils down to hard work and looking across the table at our public and our partners to gain understanding... and each other's phone numbers."

Thanks to all for the contributions, and for continuing to communicate the value of public health nursing.

>>Read the full set of comments on the public health nursing post here.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.