Public Health Nurse


A special form of nursing that joins nursing and the principles of public health are called Public Health Nursing. Public health nursing seeks to improve the health of the population as a whole instead of focusing on merely an individual or the family. This is called a type of Community Health Nursing.

It was during the year 1859 in England where the roots of Public Health Nursing can be traced. Also known as the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale together with her assistant volunteer nurses, braved the Crimean War to solve the existing problem of the wounded soldiers in the British camp. Each of the volunteer nurses was assigned in a particular geographic area and their task was to oversee the health of the people living in the vicinity. This is why public nursing today is devoting is services to a particular community.

The role of a Public Health Nurse is to prevent primarily diseases, illnesses, injuries, disability and any type of untimely death such as in newborns or fetuses. Public Health nurses functions in a team composed of other health professionals such as doctors or physicians, health specialists of the environment, dieticians or nutritionists, health educators or teachers, epidemiologist and others. All the members of this group work together with their assigned area’s officials as well as residents to come up with the best solutions to the existing health problems and at the same time educating them with preventing measures to avoid any type of disease or illness that is common to such area. Altogether they plan for the betterment of their locality.

Public Health Nurse also assists in improving the health status of individuals and families. This is done in the form of structured health teachings that focus primarily on proper healthy lifestyle changes in various settings such as the home, the office and the community. They also advise individuals to avoid health practices that are known to be dangerous to health such as smoking, drinking alcohol, improper dieting, sedentary lifestyles, and unsafe practices sexually and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The communities as well as the environment are acknowledged by Public Health Nurses as the major spots that contribute to how people decide on how to live which greatly affects the choices in lifestyle. Thus, public health nursing is spending a considerable portion in making sure that the community is maintaining a healthy way of living. Some of the activities that are commonly happening in any type of community are tackling the issues on decreasing the selling of tobacco smoke to under-aged teenagers, the fluoridation of potable water, eradicating the hazards in the workplace, immunization of children, reducing the occurrences of drowning.

PHNs can also be found in schools and in the workplace. PHNs who assist workers while on duty are called Occupational Health Nurses. General Practice Nurses are those who work in the local government offices. The community interventions of the public health nurses in department health settings are not well-defined and their job is primarily located in the home and clinic. Their primary role is focused on the concerns of illnesses of both mother and child. They also do follow-up health visits on rare and dangerous cases such as lead poisoning and SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome. Funding for public health nursing is based on the fragmented budget of the local government from states and federal sources for particular problems.