public health nurse     

What is a Public Health Nursing?
Stanhope & Lancaster define Public Health Nursing as the synthesis of nursing theory and public health theory applied to promoting and preserving the health of populations. The focus of practice is the community as a whole and the effect of the community’s health status (resources) on the health of individuals, families, and groups (2000).

What is a Public Health Nurse?
A Public Health Nurse (PHN) is a Registered Nurse (RN) with specialty training in community health. At this point two levels of certification are available for nurses in community health and public health nursing. To be eligible to write the certification exam at the generalist level, one must be a registered nurse and licensed in the US, have a baccalaureate or higher degree in nursing or related field, have at least 30 contact hours of
continuing education applicable to the field in the past three years, and have practiced in the community health field a minimum of 1500 hours in the last 3 years.

“Public Health Nurses integrate 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. They translate and articulate the health and illness experiences of diverse, often vulnerable individuals and families in the population to health planners and policy makers, and assist members of the community to voice their problems and aspirations” (APHN 2001). PHN’s are knowledgeable about multiple strategies for intervention. They translate knowledge from the health and social sciences to individuals and population groups through targeted interventions, programs, and advocacy.

Some activities of the Public Health Nurse as stated by the American Public Health Association include the following, but are not limited to, include:

  1. Provide essential input to interdisciplinary programs that monitor, anticipate, and respond to public health problems in population groups;
  2. Evaluate health trends and risk factors of population groups and help determine priorities for targeted interventions;
  3. Work with communities or specific population groups within the community to develop public policy and targeted health promotion and disease prevention activities;
  4. Participate in assessing and evaluating health care services to ensure that people are informed of programs and services available and are assisted in the utilization of available services;
  5. Provide health education, care management and primary care to individuals and families who are members of vulnerable populations and high-risk groups (2001).

For more information on Public Health Nurse, visit
Public Health Nurse Professional Organization
Public Health