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

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

3354.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 5:10 PM

Abstract #73849

Impact of the Public Health Nursing Shortages

Sharon Moffatt, MS, RN, Division of Community Public Health, Vermont Department of Health, 108 Cherry Street, PO Box 70, Burlington, VT 05402, 802-863-7347,

The number of registered nurses (RNs) employed in public/community health settings has decreased from 39% in 1980 to 17.6% in 2000 (National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, Health Resources Services Administration). The average age of all RNs is 45.2, while for public health nurses (PHN) it is 49 years. As decreasing qualified applicants are available, agencies have begun hiring people with no PHN or nursing education or leaving positions open.

Education to prepare PHN occurs primarily in baccalaureate level nursing programs. Currently only approximately 50% of the PHN workforce have a baccalaureate or higher degree in nursing. These BSN-prepared nurses are critical members of the public health workforce having the skills to address the re-emergence of communicable diseases, new infectious diseases and emergency preparedness.

Many cities replaced PHN with community outreach workers, responsible for the follow up of patients with tuberculosis (TB). In New York City where outreach workers have replaced PHN, it has been documented that 89% of patients discharged from hospitals were lost to follow-up and failed to complete therapy. In contrast, in places such as Boston, where a nursing case management model was used in TB control, the rates for completion of therapy are frequently above 90%. (ANA Position Statement: Tuberculosis and Public Health Nursing, 1993.)

If the essential contributions that nursing can make to the health of a community are to continue, it is critical to have a diverse and well-staffed public health nursing workforce.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Public Health Nursing, Public Health Administration

Related Web page:

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.

The Nursing Shortage: Prescriptions for Safety

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