195391 Assuring a competent public health nursing work force through student engagement in local health department strategic goals

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:30 PM

Ann B. Walker, RN MSN , Assistant Professor, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, NJ
Public health nurses are the largest part of the public health workforce and the field that will be most affected by workforce shortages in the future. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) factors such as budget constraints and lack of qualified candidates are currently hindering the hiring of public health nurses in local health departments. Additionally, due to the economy, local health departments are finding their budgets cut and having to make hard choices about resource allocation. According to the Quad Council, students often select the area of nursing they want to specialize in based on their student experience. Students may be hesitant to choose a career in public health nursing when they have not been exposed to it in their undergraduate clinical experiences. Currently there are few nursing programs utilizing local public health departments as clinical sites and most nursing students are unaware of the role of public health nurses in their local communities.

This presentation will describe the collaboration between a local baccalaureate-nursing program and several local health departments to provide educational opportunities for student nurses. Recently every county in New Jersey completed a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) based on a community-wide assessment. Public health practice standards require local health departments to implement the strategic goals identified in these plans. The students utilize the goals from these plans to guide their field projects, thereby supporting the health departments in fulfilling the strategic goals of these plans and supplementing the declining resources of the departments. The benefit to the students is participating in real world health promotion activities that benefit the communities in which they live, working with seasoned public health nurses and being exposed to potential employment opportunities. Curriculum objectives, collaborative difficulties and suggestions for future programs will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
Identify two examples of the inclusion of local community strategic health goals into the curriculum of a baccalaureate-nursing program. Describe the collaboration between academia and practice in exposing BSN graduates to career opportunities in the local health department. Discuss two barriers to placement of students in local public health departments. Analyze at least one current issue in public health nursing workforce supply and preparedness.

Keywords: Public Health Curriculum, Public Health Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently community health faculty at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Previously I was the Director of Public Health Nursing at the Cape May County Health Department.
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.