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Public Health Nursing on the Navajo reservation: Opportunities & challenges. Experiences of a Masters prepared Nurse

Malini Krishnan, RN, MSN, MPH, Department Of Community Health, Fort Defiance Indian Health Service, P.O. Box 649, Corner of N7 & N12, Fort Defiance, AZ 86504, 928 729 8490, malini.krishnan@fdih.ihs.gov

The Navajo reservation is the largest American Indian Reservation in the United States of America. It covers over 25,000 square miles in northern Arizona, northwest New Mexico, and southeast Utah. The Fort Defiance Indian Hospital is one of six hospitals in the Navajo Indian Health Service. Approximately 32,000 Navajos and members of other Tribes live in this service unitsí catchment area. People living on the Navajo Reservation have very limited access to modern conveniences such as telephone, transportation, running water and electricity. The Public Health Nurse is the link to health care in those remote or isolated communities on the reservation. The prevalence of selected risk factors and chronic diseases are the highest among the American Indian population when compared with other minority populations in the US. Public Health Nursing continues to be one of the most visible and well-known programs to the American Indian Tribes because it is community based.

There are four Public Health Nurses in the Department of Community Health at the Fort Defiance Indian Hospital. Services provided by our Public Health Nurses include home visits, school health activities, immunization clinics, high risk elder task force activities, communicable disease/STD control, Teen Mom & baby program, Tuberculosis control, Jail health services, health education, discharge planning/case management services, community assessment and collaboration & partnership building with Tribal programs. Our Public Health Nursing practice is very dynamic, independent and outwardly motivated. Opportunities and challenges for a newly graduated Public Health Nurse in this setting will be elaborated on.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: American Indians, Public Health Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Indian Health Service
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: I am a Public Health Nurse employed in Fort Defiance Indian Hospital in Fort Defiance, Arizona.

Cultural Diversity

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