175171 Without borders or walls: Developing online master's education for public health nurses

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 11:30 AM

Barbara Battin Little, DNP, MPH, RN , College of Nursing, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Sandra Schoenfisch, PhD, RN , Office of Public Health Nursing, Florida Department of Health, Tallahassee, FL
Background: Developing the first online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program with a specialty in Public Health Nursing (PHN) offered at a public university in Florida required extensive planning given the state of the PHN practice environment, health department needs, and existing resources. The development of practice-education partnerships and HRSA funding made this program possible. This presentation discusses curriculum, program development, implementation and evaluation of a new online MSN in PHN degree program.

Methods: Partnerships with the College of Public Health, state and local health departments were strengthened to provide optimal student experiences, meet workforce needs and recruit students. The curriculum is based on the Quad Council PHN Competencies and Intervention Wheel. Courses are offered primarily online with interactive web-based seminars that help students further their education with minimal commuting to campus. Innovative technology for increasing student-faculty, student-student and student-content interaction are incorporated into online courses. Students periodically come to campus for orientation to the program and seminars in selected courses. Recruitment strategies include regional and online information sessions, presentations at conferences, mass email and direct mailings to local public health agencies, and individual follow-up with prospects.

Results: Six students enrolled in the first cohort and over 40 nurses expressed interest in the next cohort which starts Fall 2008. The Colleges of Nursing and Public Health increased collaboration on multidisciplinary education. The state department of health helped promote awareness of the program. Linkages with local public health agencies were strengthened. Recruitment barriers include low numbers of baccalaureate prepared nurses, lack of incentives for higher education, limited tuition reimbursement programs and GRE admission requirements.

Conclusions: The MSN in PHN program is preparing nurses to meet the public health needs of the Nation. Use of innovative technology in online education increases access for PHNs to graduate education without borders or walls. Academic-practice partnerships strengthen development of preceptors, student clinical experiences and, ultimately, the public health system. Federal funding for graduate PHN education programs, student scholarships, and loan forgiveness programs is essential to development of the public health workforce.

Learning Objectives:
Summarize strategies for developing partnerships with practice partners in preparation for implementing a public health nursing program. Describe the use of the Quad Council Public Health Nursing (PHN) Competencies with the Intervention Wheel as a foundation for a graduate PHN program. Discuss three methods for recruiting students into a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialty in Public Health Nursing.

Keywords: Education, Nursing Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am responsible for program development, student recruitment, and teaching in the MSN in PHN program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.