The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3239.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:45 PM

Abstract #70113

Public health nursing competencies and learning needs: Findings from Colorado

Marilyn L Stember, RN, PhD, FAAN1, Cathy White, RN, MS2, Marlaine Smith, RN, PhD3, Nancy Brown, RN, PhD, FAAN3, Karen O'Brien, RN, MS2, and Judith A. Barton, RN, PhD3. (1) School of Nursing, University of Colorado, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80220, 303-315-4338,, (2) Office of Local Liaison, Colorado Department of Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246, (3) School of Nursing, C-288, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 4200 East 9th Avenue, Denver, CO 80262

Experts agree that the nation’s public health workforce is under-prepared and insufficiently skilled to carry out today’s public health agenda and respond to emergency situations including bioterrorism. This study of public health nurses (PHNs) was part of a larger statewide study of public health workers in Colorado (N=1,249 participants). A self-assessment tool, Towards 21st Century Public Health Practice, was used to collect data on 8 Core Competencies and 7 Bioterrorism/Emergency Preparedness areas. Workers were directed to an Internet website for completing the tool; those without access completed a paper version. The PHN respondents (N=270) averaged 47 years of age with 18 years experience in nursing and 9 years in public health. Although all counties were represented, most were employed in urban counties. Results of the competency self-assessment showed PHNs were more proficient in Core Competencies than in Bioterrorism/Emergency Preparedness Competencies. Among the Core Competencies, PHNs were most proficient in Cultural Competency, Communication, and Leadership; they were least proficient in Policy Development/Program Planning and Financial Planning/Management. Among the Bioterrorism/Emergency Preparedness Competencies, PHNs rated themselves most proficient in Disaster Response and Physical Injury and least proficient in Disaster Planning and Toxic Chemical/Environmental Hazards. Although PHNs recognized educational needs across all areas, they reported greater educational needs related to Bioterrorism/Emergency Preparedness than for Core Competencies. Subsequent analyses focused on differences in competencies and educational needs between various groups of PHNs (e.g., type of position, rural/urban). Informed decisions are now being made to offer relevant educational programs to improve Colorado’s public health nursing workforce.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Competency, Public Health Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

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The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA