Public Health Nursing

Definition of Public Health Nursing:

Public health nursing is a specialty practice within nursing and public health. It focuses on improving population health by emphasizing prevention and attending to multiple determinants of health. Often used interchangeably with community health nursing, this nursing practice includes advocacy, policy development, and planning, which addresses issues of social justice. With a multi-level view of health, public health nursing action occurs through community applications of theory, evidence, and a commitment to health equity.

The Practice of Public Health Nursing:

  • A focus on the health needs of an entire population, including inequities and the unique needs of sub-populations
  • Assessment of population health using a comprehensive, systematic approach
  • Attention to multiple determinants of health
  • An emphasis on primary prevention
  • Application of interventions at all levels—individuals, families, communities, and the systems that impact their health

Public Health Nursing Activities and Practice Settings:

These activities include community collaboration, health teaching, and policy development, in response to priorities derived from ongoing, comprehensive population-focused assessment. Public health nurses are members and leaders of interprofessional teams in diverse settings and in many different types of agencies and organizations including all levels of government, community-based and other nongovernmental service organizations, foundations, policy think tanks, academic institutions, and other research settings.


American Public Health Association, Public Health Nursing Section. (1996). Definition and role of public health nursing: A statement of the public health nursing section. Washington, DC.

Public Health Intervention Model

Public Health Intervention Model Text Alternative

Reference (for the Public Health Intervention Wheel):
Public Health Nursing Section (2001). Public health interventions–applications for public health nursing practice. St. Paul: Minnesota Department of Health.

10 Essential Public Health Performance Standards

Reference (for the 10 Essential Public Health Performance Standards):
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). National public health performance standards program, 10 essential public health services. Retrieved from:

Nursing Resources:

Publications, Forms, and Standing Orders