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Increasing public health nursing environmental health competencies

Noël Bazini-Barakat, RN, MSN, MPH, Janet Scully, MPH, and Cyrus Rangan, MD, FAAP, ACMT. Toxics Epidemiology Program, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Public Health, 313 North Figueroa Street, Room 127, Los Angeles, CA 90012, 213-738-6104, nbarakat@ladhs.org

Over the past decade, increasing attention has been placed on the role of public health nursing in environmental health. Although many nurses have had only minimal experience and training in environmental health, as local global environmental concerns increase and new information is discovered about health effects related to toxic agent exposure, the need to enhance nursing competence related to environmental health risks increases. Of increasing importance in Los Angeles County—a coastal community often impacted by ocean water quality—is the consumption of local fish contaminated with DDT, PCBs and Mercury. Although this specific environmental health concern has received increasing attention in public health and the media, many public health nurses in Los Angeles County have little knowledge or experience about health effects or methods to decrease risk of exposure. In an effort to increase public health nurses’ competence related to health risks association with consumption of environmentally contaminated fish, a nursing education program was developed. Over 200 district public health nurses in Los Angeles County received training related to this issue as one step toward increasing their overall awareness and competence in addressing environmental health concerns in their communities. Data related to knowledge gained during the training will be shared as well as recommendations for future methods and approaches to increasing public health nursing environmental health competence.

Learning Objectives:

  • Upon completion of the session, the participant will be able to

    Keywords: Environmental Health, Public Health Nursing

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Public Health
    I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
    Relationship: Employment

    Environmental Health

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA