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Public Health Disciplines: Nursing
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Public Health Nurse

Discipline Description

Education Requirements


A public health nurse (PHN) is a community health nurse who synthesizes knowledge from public health science, primary health care (including the determinants of health), nursing science, and theory and knowledge of the social sciences to promote, protect, and preserve the health of populations. PHNs practice population health promotion in increasingly diverse settings, such as community health centres, schools, street clinics, youth centres and nursing outposts, and with diverse partners, to meet the health needs of specific populations.

Although the focus of public health nursing practice is health promotion of populations, public health nurses integrate their personal and clinical understanding and knowledge of the health and illness experiences of individuals, families and communities into their population health promotion practice. That is, public health nurses recognize that a community's health is inextricably linked with the health of its constituent members and is often reflected first in individual and family health experiences. Healthful communities and systems that support health, in turn, contribute to opportunities for health for individuals, families, groups and populations (Canadian Community Health Nursing Standards of Practice (2003).

The educational preparation for entry to practice as a PHN is a baccalaureate degree in nursing.

Canadian Nurses Association (CNA)

CNA nursing programs

Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing

Association of Community Colleges of Canada


This information was compiled from a variety of Canadian sources. To the best our knowledge, it is current as of January 2004.

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