185456 LEAP: Public Health Leaders Project to Improve Capacity of a Rural Nursing Workforce

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 10:50 AM

Connie Diaz Swearingen, MSN, APRN, BC , Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, University of WY, Laramie, WY
Pamela Clarke, PhD , School of Nursing, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY

The LEAP PHN Leaders project was developed to address community nursing workforce issues in a rural/frontier state. Rural populations are often identified as vulnerable populations due to geographical, occupation and socio-cultural factors. Health disparities are evident across all age groups among residents of this rural state, and although the Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice calls for 2/3 of RNs to have BSN degrees or higher by 2010, only about 14% of Wyoming nurses currently complete a BSN. While public health nurses (PHNs) are uniquely placed to influence health disparities, PHNs, particularly in rural areas, are often educationally under-prepared for the population-based community health role.


The goal of the project is to increase the capacity of the state's community health system to address health disparities through facilitating completion of a BSN with particular focus on development of PHN competencies.


Funded by a HRSA Nurse Recruitment and Retention grant, the project provided enhanced outreach efforts targeting community college nursing advisors, ADN students, and the current nursing workforce to increase the number of nurses with access to a BSN completion program. A key component of project curriculum is the application of public health competencies to enhance nursing leadership among nurses across all practice settings.


LEAP curriculum positively impacted proficiency in the PHN competencies among RN/BSN completion students.

X Differences in self-perceived proficiency among LEAP students were significantly higher at completion of the program than at initial enrollment.

X LEAP students scored significantly higher in 5 domain scores compared to non-LEAP RN/BSN students. These domains included: analytical assessment with populations, policy and program development with populations, communication, financial planning with populations, and leadership and systems thinking.


Health disparities evident in rural populations demand that all nurses are prepared to partner with the community to identify, define and address health needs. Beginning in the introductory BSN course and culminating in a community-focused final practicum, the LEAP RN/BSN Public Health Leaders curriculum demonstrates promise for preparing the nursing workforce to meet the health needs of their rural communities.

Learning Objectives:
By then end of the session, participants will be able to: 1. Describe an innovative curriculum to incorporate C/PHN competencies in an RN/BSN completion project. 2. Understand evaluation findings related to C/PHN competency development in an RN/BSN completion program. 3. Apply strategies to enhance RN/BSN education and leadership development utilizing a framework of C/PHN competencies.

Keywords: Competency, Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: 15+ years of work as a public health nurse administrator, four years as nurse educator and currently serve as co-Project Director of PH Leader RN/BSN completion project.
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.