Reorienting Public Health Nurses’ Practice With a Professional Practice Model

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Abstract

Purpose

Documents articulating public health nurses’ (PHNs’) roles, including Canadian standards and competencies, depict a broad focus working at multiple levels to improve population outcomes through the promotion of health equity. Conversely, Canadian experts depict a looming crisis, based on the rising disconnect between daily activities and ideal practice. While perfectly positioned, PHNs’ skills and abilities are under-utilized and largely invisible. The intention of this study was to develop a model to support the full scope of equity-focused PHN practice.

Method

A participatory action research approach was used. Qualitative data were gathered using semistructured interview guides during audio-recorded meetings. The data were coded into central themes using content analysis and constant comparison. A researcher reflexive journal and field notes were kept. A significant feature was full participant involvement.

Results

The outcome was a professional practice model to reframe the PHN role to focus on population health and equity. The model was imperative in promoting full scope of practice, dealing with workload pressures, and describing PHNs’ value within the organization and broader health system.

Conclusion

Professional practice models hold promise as frameworks to depict autonomous practice activities, situated within organizations and healthcare systems, and underpinned by nursing knowledge.

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