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Public Health Nursing’ Definition

The term “public health nurse” was initially coined by Lillian Wald, who had believed that the primary role of the public health nurses consisted not only of taking care of patients that are sick but also dealing with economic and social problems of their patients. Lillian Wald was successful in putting an emphasis on the dignity of human beings, regardless of their social status while the majority of social commentators of the end of the nineteenth century thought that the poor were responsible for their own poverty and illnesses (Fee & Bu, 2010, p. 1206).

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Furthermore, in 1985 Wald established the Henry Street Nurses’ Settlement, which included nurses providing care services across New York. The Settlement transformed into the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, a non-profit organization that provides high-quality health care.

How the Standards of Practice Are Met

Regardless of practice setting, the primary role of a nurse has always been the provision of safe patient care. However, safe patient care is only possible with the availability of a suitable number of registered nurses that possess an appropriate number of skills for providing care. The core function of safe patient care is met with the availability of proper policies, procedures, the supply of proper equipment, as well as the mix of effective nursing skills among nurses.

Population Served

Since public health nursing is a practice, which is entirely focused on population, the population in question is the one that requires some improvements both in health and social conditions. It is also important to mention that the early public health nurses saw themselves as protectors and advocates of such vulnerable groups. The vulnerable groups included the elderly that lacked care, the homeless, teenage mothers, the disables, as well as individuals at high risk of a disease (Kulbok, Thatcher, Park, & Meszaros, 2012, para. 4).


The development of public health nursing in its early stages involved specific interventions in sanitation targeted at effectively preventing the spreading of illness. However, the current public health nursing is faced with an issue of including effective interventions that will be beneficial in showing rapid results. On the other hand, public health nursing uses mapping in order to design interventions targeted at battling with a disease in a specific region, like, for instance, the intervention to address tobacco abuse by the Virginian youth (Kulbok et al., 2012, para. 13).

Levels of Practice

Public health nursing takes into consideration all levels of health care prevention; however, there is a preference for the primary level of practice. On the primary prevention level, public health nursing relates to promoting the healthy lifestyle, protecting the community from a potential spreading of illness, and, lastly, preventing the illness from initially appearing. On the secondary care level, there is a focus on the detection and treatment of an issue in the earliest stage of its development. On the tertiary level of care, public health nursing aims to prevent the already existing illnesses from further complications (Public Health Nursing Practice Model, n.d., p. 1).

Ethical Dilemma

The two factors that affect the public health ethics include the protection of the community and the individual rights of patients, like, for example, their right to smoke. While the professional conduct of public health nurses requires the duty of care and beneficence, the patients’ autonomy and human rights can be breached in the performance of the duty of care.

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Fee, E., & Bu, L. (2010). The origins of public health nursing: The Henry Street visiting nurse service. Am J Public Health, 100(7), 1206-1207.

Kulbok, P., Thatcher, E., Park, E., & Meszaros, P. (2012). Evolving public health nursing roles: Focus on community participatory health promotion and prevention. Web.

Public Health Nursing Practice Model. (n.d.). Web.

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