174507 Building the public health (PH) workforce: Doctor of nursing practice (DNP) in public health nursing (PHN) through distance learning

Monday, October 27, 2008: 11:30 AM

Patricia M. Speck, DNSc, FNP-BC, FAAN , Primary Care/Public Health, University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing, Memphis, TN
Pamela D. Connor, PhD , Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN
Margaret T. Hartig, PhD, FNP-BC , Primary Care/Public Health, University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing, Memphis, TN
Trimika Bowdre, MPH , Primary Care/Public Health, University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing, Memphis, TN
Background: Shortage of public health nurses (PHN) endangers the health of populations. Reasons for the shortage are complex, including aging nurse workforce and a shortage of graduate PHN prepared nursing faculty. In 2001, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Nursing admitted the first PHN practice doctorate student utilizing distance learning methodologies to respond to this need.

Methods: The curriculum incorporates Essentials of Doctoral Education for the advanced practice nurse and the PHN Competencies. Retrospective review of the PHN option curriculum and the students are included in this evaluation. Students are surveyed annually regarding activities, including the types of projects completed, employment, and post graduation scholarly activities.

Results: The distance learner graduates met the program goal to address disparity in health care delivery. Scholarly Capstone projects included evaluating homeless programs, programs targeting prevention of measles and HIV in Africa, implementation of PHN Competencies into graduate curricula, use of portable electronic medical records following disaster, community readiness for disaster, gaps in services for intellectually and physically challenged, prevention programs for the sexually victimized, and community-wide response to reports of violence against women. Graduates (12) teach advanced nursing practice in accredited PHN programs and at historically black colleges (2). Graduates are located in disadvantaged communities (9) and are working through local health departments (2). After examining student resources, disadvantaged PHN students were assisted financially with loaner computers. Overall, meeting the competencies through distance learning has resulted in five graduates stating plans to develop a PHN DNP program in their community.

Conclusions: Since the program's inception, 17 students have graduated; 5 more will graduate in 2008. Student choices to remain in education, public health departments and in communities where the disadvantaged can benefit from their expertise are building the PHN workforce. Capstone projects demonstrate that students evaluated health policy and implemented systematic change in complex health care delivery systems serving disparaged and disadvantaged populations. Students report graduating with skills necessary to teach PHN Competencies to the existing workforce in their communities where capstone projects, scholarly activities, and clinical experiences advanced their proficiency in PHN skills, knowledge, attitudes and clinical activities.

Learning Objectives:
The learner will be able to: Discuss the evolution of professional nursing publications that determine essentials of DNP education and PHN practice List four critical elements of distance learning Discuss three strategies for building PHN leaders through attaining proficiency in the PHN domains and competencies.

Keywords: Education, Public Health Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PHN Option Coordinator and teach at the UTHSC CoN in Memphis. As the PHN Option Coordinator, I am responsible for the curriculum development and modifications, and the clinical experiences in community programs and systems that impact population health.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
UTHSC College of Nursing Primary Care/Public Health Employment (includes retainer)
HRSA Grant #D09HP05440 Primary Care/Public Health PI & Advisor: Drs. Pat Speck & Pam Connor; Employee Trimika Bowdre

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.