Online Program

Public Health Nursing: Lessons Learned from the Cuban Experience

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Shirley Orr, MHS, APRN, NEA-BC, Association of Public Health Nurses, Wichita, KS

With a modest investment of financial resources for health care, Cuba achieves very positive outcomes in population health.  The life expectancy of Cubans is comparable to that of US residents.  The infant mortality rate is lower than the US rate and the HIV rate is the lowest in the Americas.  Additionally, Cuba has universal medical and dental care and provides preventive strategies and primary care at the neighborhood level, resulting in positive health outcomes.  


The session will highlight the experience and lessons learned about nursing roles in the Cuban health care and public health systems, as witnessed by members of the APHA Affiliate Leaders Exchange in Cuba during March, 2015.  The roles and functions of Cuban nurses will be described, with an emphasis on the impact of public health nursing in improving population health outcomes. A discussion of observations from the exchange experience and their implications for US public health will include potential strategies that that could be adapted for public health nursing. 

Lessons Learned

Cuban nursing roles support the integration of public health and health care to increase quality and availability of health services to all, while maintaining a priority focus on the health of entire communities.  


Effective models for integrating public health and health care have improved health outcomes in other nations, and may be adapted for the US.  Nurses can play a key role in spanning the boundaries of public health and health care to integrate the two systems in the US and internationally.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the roles performed by public health nurses in the Cuban public health system Compare and contrast public health nursing in the US and Cuba Discuss the impact of public health nurses on population health outcomes in Cuba

Keyword(s): International Health, Nurses/Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My career in public health nursing practice and leadership spans three decades. In March 2015, I was a member of the APHA Affiliate Leader delegation that visited Cuba to learn about the Cuban public health and health care systems. My experiences and lessons learned about the Cuban public health system and the roles and outcomes of public health nurses in that system are the basis for this presentation.
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.