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Community and Public Health Nursing

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Community and Public Health Nursing

Yoanet Farinas Llorente

Miami Dade College

School of Nursing


Community and public health nursing practice focuses on health initiatives at the different societal levels and requires unique knowledge, competencies, and skills.  Public health nursing encompasses not only cure of diseases, but also community support, health education, and social and political involvement.  The purpose of this paper is to explore community and public health nursing opportunities throughout the United States, and the roles and responsibilities of public health nurses as described by the various state agencies.  

Community and Public Health Nursing

        Public health nursing (PHN) involves working with communities and populations as equal partners, plus focusing on primary prevention and health promotion (American Nurses Association, 2013).  The practice and definition of public health nursing was developed in the 20th century.  Initially, the National Organization for Public Health Nursing first defined it in 1929 as “an organized community service rendered by graduate nurses to the individual, family, and community” (Bekemeier, Walker Linderman, Kneipp, & Zahner, 2004).  

In 1980, the Public Health Nursing Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA) defined public health nursing as “the body of knowledge from the public health sciences and professional nursing theories with the goal to improve the health of the community” (APHA, 1980, p. 2).  This definition was revised by the Public Health Nursing Section in 1996 as “the practice of promoting and protecting the health of populations using knowledge from nursing, social, and public health sciences” (Bekemeier et al., 2004).  It is important to comprehend the definition of PHN in order to recognize which are the essential functions of a public health nurse.

PHN roles extend beyond sick care to encompass advocacy, health education, community organizing, and political and social reform (American Nurses Association, 2013).  After searching the internet for information about community and public health nursing opportunities, I noticed that there are several public health nursing positions available throughout the United States.  The roles and responsibilities of public health nurses are described accordingly.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) describes the role of public nurses as the integration of community involvement and knowledge about the entire population with personal, clinical understandings of the health and illness experiences of individuals and families within the population (MDHSS, n.d.).  Public health nurses translate knowledge from the health and social sciences to individuals and population groups through targeted interventions, programs, and advocacy (MDHSS, n.d.).  This website specifies the public health nursing activities performed by public health nurses in the state of Missouri.  To enumerate, they evaluate health trends and risk factors of population groups, and work with communities or specific population groups within the community.  They also participate in assessing and evaluating health care services to ensure that people are informed of available programs and services.  Furthermore, public health nurses provide health education, care management, and primary care to individuals and families who are members of vulnerable population and high-risk groups (MDHSS, n.d.).

The Mower County Community Health Department (MCCHD), in Minnesota, describes public health nursing as one which protects and promotes the health of Mower County citizens through the delivery of education and health services.  The roles and responsibilities of public health nurses include coordinating the care of individuals eligible for public health services and conducting public clinics to treat, screen, and prevent health concerns.  Additionally, their functions involve investigating community health threats, preparing for public health emergencies, establishing contacts with local service providers, and educating community groups, schools, and the public on a variety of health topics (MCCHD, 2017).

The town of Arlington (2017), in Massachusetts, is offering employment opportunities in public health nursing as it is advertised in its Website.  The essential functions and duties of the position include providing follow-up on all cases of communicable diseases to control for outbreaks, conducting home and site visits, and participating in community health programs.  The role also includes investigating reports of communicable diseases, maintaining records, completing reports, and serving as resource person to school nurses dealing with infectious diseases.  In addition, the position requires performing a wide variety of nursing services including Hepatitis vaccine and Tuberculosis skin testing to all police and fire fighters, and organizing and participating in immunization clinics.  Besides, the public health nurse is assigned to provide general information to callers on public health rules, regulations and procedures.

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