Public Health Nursing
In an era of increasing challenges for public health, nurses have the potential to make a dramatic difference. The American Public Health Association defines public health nursing as, "the practice of promoting and protecting the health of populations using knowledge from nursing, social, and public health sciences".1
As individuals, nurses directly influence the health and wellbeing of patients every day. Through frequent contact, nurses are best placed to encourage lifestyle changes in communities and offer education on healthy living – particularly to the most vulnerable in society.
Uniting to improve public health
By working together, nurses can make a great impact on public health as a whole. The American Nurses Association (ANA) builds on individual nurse contributions to public health, by supporting policy, advocacy, and education at the highest levels. These areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
- Infection prevention;
- Environmental health;
- Opioid crisis response; and
- Migrant health.
Preparing nurses for public health crises
Nurses must be prepared to respond directly to public health crises; from outbreaks of disease to natural disasters. ANA keeps nurses up-to-date on emerging public health issues, to help nurses to make the most informed treatment decisions.
ANA has supported nurses’ work with resources on:
Public health nursing’s scope and standards of practice
ANA empowers nurses to perform to the full extent of their expertise, for the benefit of public health. By facilitating the review and revision of public health nursing’s scope and standards of practice, ANA ensures that nursing responsibilities evolve at the same pace as the demands of public health.
The Quad Council Coalition of Public Health Nursing Organizations
ANA supports the work of the Quad Council Coalition of Public Health Nursing Organizations (QCC), which strives to improve the health of communities through excellence in nursing education, practice, leadership, and research.2 Its membership has changed since it was established in the early 1980s, and now includes:
- Association of Community Health Nurse Educators (ACHNE)
- Association of Public Health Nurses (APHN)
- American Public Health Association (APHA) - Public Health Nursing Section
- Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE)
The goals of the QCC are to create innovative models for public health nursing practice; identify and support the emerging roles of public health nurses; and to develop leadership skills for public health nurses at all levels.
Recent ANA actions for public health
Take more action
Want to know more about public health nursing? Contact any of the above Quad Council associations. If you’re interested in obtaining the Advanced Public Health Nursing-Board Certified (APHN-BC) credential, visit the ANCC Certification section to learn about the assessment method for ANCC board certification.
- Quad Council
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Public/Population Health Nursing website
- American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Public Health Nursing Certification
- Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
- Guide to Community Preventive Services The Community Guide looks at healthy community promotion.
- Health Services Research & Public Health NiH.
- Healthy People 2020
- National Advisory Council - Public Health Nursing: Key to Our Nation’s Health
- National Guidelines Clearinghouse (NGC) AHRQ.
- National Rural Health Association - Public Health Nursing: Strengthening the Core of Rural Public Health
- Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow: Career Info – Public Health Nurse
- U. S. Public Health Service: Nursing
1American Public Health Association, Public Health Nursing Section. (2013). The definition and practice of public health nursing: a statement of the public health nursing section. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association.
2 Quad Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations. (2011). Quad Council competencies for public health nurses. Retrieved 3/24/16 at www.achne.org/files/quad%20council/quadcouncilcompetenciesforpublichealthnurses.pdf
By working together, nurses can make the greatest impact on public health as a whole.
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