Public Health Nursing
Section Newsletter
Annual Meeting 2005


by Betty Bekemeier

Those of us who watched it all on TV and were not directly connected are not likely able to fully imagine the personal fear, the anxiety over family, the devastation of material losses, the devotion to duty, and the unfaltering support to local communities that our sister and brother PHNs experienced and gave in the Gulf Coast. I know I feared for the safety of my friends, the state of their homes, the health of the communities they serve, and the long, long days/weeks/months ahead of them as they stepped up to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. At the same time, the e-mails were flying with questions regarding what we should do and how we can help. (Stay tuned on this as we are setting up a special opportunity for gathering contributions toward public health nursing related needs in the area.)

I have been in this far-too-privileged vantage position. It was a position from which I could sit comfortably in my office and home and see the misery only through the media. At the same time I hear from so many others around the country who demonstrate their mettle and passion in support of their colleagues in a hurricane’s path. What I’ve learned from it all is:

  • That I have a renewed impression of how tremendously resilient, dedicated, and indispensable public health nurses are.

  • That we have demonstrated how critically important an effective public health system is if we are able to adequately protect our communities in an emergency.

  • That public health nurses are, at their core, defenders of health and justice.

  • That there is always more that I can and should do, to be true to my profession and colleagues.

We are hoping that many of you can join us in December at our APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. If you travel from the Gulf Coast, we will provide for you a hopeful sense of normalcy, support, relief, recognition, and appreciation. If you join us from elsewhere, we will provide (among other things!) an opportunity to honor your Gulf Coast PHN colleagues. The staff and APHA leadership made an enormous shift this fall in moving our meeting to Philadelphia. It was initially a controversial decision, as people asked how we could still hold our meeting when our nation’s landscape had changed so dramatically. Now it seems the decision has been the right one. It provides a unique opportunity for us to gather and make certain that we learn and grow and appreciate and honor what brought us to Philadelphia. I’m very glad we’ll be together.

At this upcoming meeting, PHN Section members and the husband of the late Beverly Flynn will also be honoring her memory through the establishment of a Mentorship Project in her name. Dr. Flynn passed away in January 2005. She was Professor Emeritus at Indiana University. Dr. Flynn was recognized worldwide for her influence on public health nursing and for her international and interdisciplinary leadership with the Healthy Cities movement. She was also devoted to the work of APHA and the PHN Section. Her legacy will continue to influence public health nursing into the future, and will also bear tangible fruit for the future of our Section through the Mentorship Project that her husband Patrick Flynn is graciously supporting from her estate. This project will be focused on growing new and emerging public health nurse leaders into our ranks, through valuing and capitalizing on the wisdom of our progressive veteran members!

The issue of the Community/Public Health Nursing credential has also been a much discussed agenda item. The exam for the Community Health Nursing certification will be discontinued by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. We, on the Quad Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations, continue to consider next steps for enhancing the future of Public Health Nursing as a recognizable and well-supported specialty within nursing and public health. Ultimately, we are planning to survey the academic and practice community of public health nurses to determine the perceived value of and barriers to a credential for PHNs. Clearly there are mixed opinions about this. Little has been documented for us to understand what would be helpful to support and enhance our PHN workforce into the future.

Remember when you apply for CEU’s at the Annual Meeting that this tremendous benefit is made possible through the tireless work of Beth Benedict, Section member, and support from the PHN Section and APHA staff.

There has been a lot more going on among your VERY active Section. Many of you will have the opportunity to see this activity in person in December at our national conference. If you are with us in Philadelphia, please plan to attend any/all of the PHN Section events and meetings. In particular, join us for the Quad Council special session and reception on Sunday from 7-10 p.m. and our celebratory luncheon on Tuesday. Also, plan to take in a few Section business meetings held on Sunday from 8-11:30 a.m. and on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings from 6:30-8 a.m. (I know that’s early, but we have fun and do good work--even at 6:30 a.m.!)



Three Section members were quoted in an article in Minority Nurse (Summer, 2005) discussing Public Health Nursing.  Aisha El-Amin, Kathleen Russell, and Chris Ortiz share their experiences in improving the health of entire communities.

“Community health nursing is so diverse.  It requires everything you learn [as a nurse].  It uses all of you, and you never get bored,”says Aisha El-Amin, MSN, RN, who recently retired from a 40-year career in community health.  Most recently she served as director of nursing for the Daughters of Charity Health Center at Carrollton in New Orleans, working with uninsured patients.

 "When I see families and communities empowering themselves to take care of their own health problems and advocating for themselves because we as nurses have helped them to do that, that is the most exciting thing,” says Kathleen Russell, DNS, RN. Now an associate professor at the Indiana University School of Nursing and president of the Black Nurses Association of Indianapolis, she continues to focus on improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations, such as doing research on breast cancer screening among medically underserved African American women.

“I stopped being judgmental toward patients a long time ago.  Once I did, doors opened for me,” says Chris Ortiz, PhD, RN, PHN, who worked as a community health nurse for a public health department and for hospice and home health agencies.  She is now an assistant professor at California State University, Fresno.

Reprinted with permission, Minority Nurse – Pam Chwedyk, Senior Editor/Editorial Manager, Minority Nurse and Minority MBA magazines.  For complete article, see <>.


by Marjorie Buchanan

 The Quad Council has enthusiastically endorsed several important environmental health initiatives that are being developed by the PHN Section of APHA.  In the fall of 2003, the PHN Section created an Environmental Health Task Force in partnership with the APHA Environment Section.  Intended to strengthen PHN’s engagement in environmental health, members are working together to strengthen the PHN role in environmental health, with the ultimate purpose to better promote health and protect the public from harm.  Marjorie Buchanan currently serves as task force chair.   Rita Lourie (PHN Section) and Robyn Gilden (Environment Section) will serve as co-chairs beginning in December 2005. 

 Collaborative Ventures to Raise Awareness in 2004

 The EH Task Force initially focused on the 2004 APHA Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., Public Health and the Environment.  They developed a day-long continuing education institute entitled Environmental Health and Nursing:  Building Tomorrow’s Leaders, which was held on Nov. 6, 2004,with a multi-disciplinary faculty of scientists, practitioners, and educators that included Kaye Bender, Lillian Mood, Patricia Butterfield, Barbara Sattler, Brenda Afzal, Peter Orris, Robyn Gilden, and Marjorie Buchanan, along with a diverse array of environmental organization leaders from the Sierra Club, Environmental Working Group, Clean Water Action, Health Care Without Harm and others.    

They also organized a scientific session on Nov. 9, 2004, PHN's and Environmental Health Professionals: A New Collaboration, during which environmental health nurse experts provided insight into environmental pollutants, health risks, and essential preventive roles for public health nurses in all areas of practice.  Anna Gilmore-Hall, Charlotte Brody, Susan Wilburn and Barbara Sattler served on the panel, with Marjorie Buchanan as the session presider. 

During this meeting, the Task Force co-convened with Liam O’Fallon of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a Federal Family Meeting with the PHN Section and other Quad Council organization representatives with federal agency environmental health staff.  Its purpose was to begin efforts to further the agencies’ support of PHNs’ environmental health practice, education and research activities.  Along with NIEHS, participants included representatives from CDC, NINR, DHHS, and EPA.  Occasional conference calls and informal meetings continue, with plans to develop specific strategic efforts by the PHN Section and other organizations to move this agenda forward. 

 At the conclusion of the 2004 APHA Annual Meeting, the EH Task Force discussed strategies for 2005 with the Quad Council.  Strong endorsements from each of the Quad Council leaders were offered for continuing to actively focus on environmental health.  The Quad Council leaders also pledged continued organizational representation in the various activities over the coming year.     

Ensuring PHN’s Essential Environmental Health Role in 2005

 In 2005 the Task Force has taken on a project it hopes will become part of the PHN Section’s future.  With a mini-grant of $5,000 from Health Care Without Harm and the Beldon Fund, the Task Force formed a project team to develop Environmental Health Principles and Recommendations for PHN Practice, Education, Research and Advocacy.  Quad Council organizations deployed representatives from each organization to serve on the Project Team:  Lill Mood for the PHN Section, Susan Wilburn for ANA, Eileen Girling for ASTDN, and Patricia Butterfield for ACHNE.  Other members include public and environmental health nursing leaders from across the United States:  Brenda Afzal, Laura Anderko, Elizabeth Blackburn, Marjorie Buchanan,  Robyn Gilden, Anna Gilmore-Hall, Philip Greiner, Colleen Hughes, Katherine Kinsey, Rita Lourie, Jeanne Matthews, Anne Turner Henson, and Barbara Sattler.

 At the APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, the Task Force has organized a PHN Section-Quad Council session scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 2:30 p.m. entitled Quad Council Perspectives: Ensuring a Foundation for Environmental Health in Nursing.  Here, the Project Team will present the draft monograph, along with organizational perspectives from each of the Quad Council organizations.  The Project Team will solicit feedback and suggestions from attendees for incorporation into the final document.  Following the meeting, the monograph will be widely circulated to spur new practice initiatives, educational curricula, research projects, and advocacy efforts by nurses and public health organizations.  Further information about this project can be obtained from Marjorie Buchanan at <>.

 Working with Others for Nursing and Environmental Health

Established in March 2004 by the University of Maryland School of Nursing Environmental Health Education Center, Health Care Without Harm and the American Nurses Association, New Voices for the Environment was convened at Commonweal, a beautiful northern California retreat center.  A dozen each of national nursing leaders and national environmentalist leaders came together for three days to learn each others’ language and values and to forge new relationships based on their discovery and recognition of shared interests and concerns. The attendees have formed a network of environmentalists and nursing organizations, including the PHN Section of APHA, committed to continue the momentum established during the meeting in a variety of ways.  Brenda Afzal, RN, MS, at the Environmental Health Education Center of the University of Maryland School of Nursing, is the “Secretariat” for the follow-up activities from the national retreat and will be facilitating continued information sharing and communication. She can be contacted at (410) 706-1778 or <>.

The PHN Section, along with other members of the Quad Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations, became Beacons for a new initiative called The Luminary Project.  This is a new Web-based effort ( telling the stories of nurses' activities to improve human health by improving the health of the environment. The stories on this Web site show how nurses are creatively and strategically addressing environmental problems and illuminating the way towards safe hospitals, communities with clean air, land and water and children born without toxic chemicals in their bodies.  In addition to these impressive stories, the website offers linkages to other environmental health websites and provides an array of resource information, templates, film lists, and many other tools for nursing practice, education, research, and advocacy.   Further information about The Luminary Project can be obtained from Kelly Heekin at <>, or Marjorie Buchanan at <>.

The PHN Section supports the efforts to learn more about the environmental health risks associated with the nursing professions by encouraging participation in the National Nurses Survey on Health and Chemical Exposures. 

 The PHN Section is encouraging members to take the National Nurses Survey on Health and Chemical Exposures (, a Web-based tool to simultaneously study and inform nurses of potential health risks associated with their profession. The survey, conducted jointly by Health Care Without Harm and the Environmental Working Group with support from the Beldon Fund, explores the relationship between a nurse’s health and on-the-job exposures to chemicals, drugs and other harmful agents. Over a period of several months, nurses will be able to enter information online about their workplace experiences and exposures. For the first time, they will also be able to download information related to these hazardous substances and alternative products. Environmental scientists and nurses will then analyze and disseminate the survey results. 

 “We urge all nurses to take a few minutes to participate in this important survey so we can get the best information about nurses’ experiences with chemical exposure in the workplace,” said Karen A. Ballard, MA, RN, co-chair of the Nurses Workgroup of Health Care Without Harm. “What makes this effort unique is that its intent is twofold – while collecting data from nurses, it also provides information to them about the health risks of products they use every day, and the availability of safer alternatives. So it’s a learning tool for both the researchers and the nurses.” 

 Further information about the survey can be obtained from Karen Ballard at <>.

 If you would like further information about the Quad Council’s activities with PHN Section’s Environmental Health Task Force or any of the initiatives mentioned in this article, please contact Marjorie Buchanan at (410) 829-2862 or <>. 

Related Files:


Debbie Swanson, Nursing and Nutrition Supervisor of Grand Forks (ND) Public Health Department recently completed a three- year fellowship in the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows Program.  Her leadership project was titled “Coalition Building, Collaboration and Community Organizing for Effective Tobacco Control” which resulted in passage of a City smoke-free ordinance that is stronger than the North Dakota smoke free law.  She will present her work at the American Academy of Nursing meeting in November.  For more information, contact Debbie at <>.


Kay Sandor, RN, PhD, associate professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, is the recipient of a Fulbright Lecturing Award for 2005-2006. She is the third member of the School of Nursing faculty to receive the Fulbright award in the past four years.

In addition to her nursing background, Sandor is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Holistic Nurse. Her research interests include spiritual development in nursing and medical students and the effects of walking the labyrinth on the mind, body and spirit. The Fulbright award is for five months during the 2005-2006 academic year in Hungary. In September, she began teaching at Semmelweis University in Budapest and the University of Pécs.

Kay is a second-generation Hungarian-American and has visited Hungary on several occasions, most recently five years ago. Though not fluent in Hungarian, her parents spoke Hungarian at home, and she learned some of the language from them. However, faculty members and students speak English, and she will also be teaching in English. Sandor will be teaching community and transcultural nursing at Semmelweis University and in Pécs, a city in Southern Hungary.

Sandor teaches in the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs at UTMB. She participated in the development of an interdisciplinary course entitled “Spirituality and Clinical Care” for both nursing and medical students.

Sandor earned a nursing diploma from Mt. Sinai Hospital in Milwaukee, Wis., a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Marquette University in Milwaukee and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, Okla. She earned her PhD in nursing from the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her training in clinical psychology at the University of Houston at Clear Lake.

M. Kay Sandor, PhD, RN, LPC, AHN-BC
Associate Professor
The University of Texas Medical Branch
School of Nursing
301 University Boulevard
Galveston, TX 77555-1029
(409) 772-8230


Loyola University Chicago’s Niehoff School of Nursing is pleased to announce its federally funded masters program, Population-based Infection Control & Environmental Safety (HRSA Grant #1-D09HP03142-01-00). This innovative specialty track has been designed to prepare nurses for leadership roles in infection control, environmental safety and bio-terrorism preparedness. Health care systems will increasingly be dealing with emerging infections, environmental safety, and protecting the public from bio-threats and will depend upon advanced practice nurses with leadership skills and expertise in these areas. Graduates are well-positioned for roles that require critical analyses of systems and outcomes, collaboration among disciplines, and the creation of key improvements in health care delivery and will be able to enter a wide range of nursing careers and leadership positions including:

  • Advanced community health nursing practice roles;

  • Hospital infection control;
  • practitioner/manager/director;
  • Leadership roles in infection control and environmental safety in community institutions such as long-term care;
  • facilities, correctional facilities and school systems
  • Leadership roles in bio-terrorism and disaster preparedness within local, state and national health departments;

  • System-wide roles in disease prevention and infection control;

  • Roles requiring interdisciplinary collaboration in health policy, health program planning and evaluation;

  • Occupational health and environmental safety management roles in a variety of workplaces.


  • Advanced practice and specialty area content includes community health nursing theory, epidemiology, microbiology and immunology, methods for infection control and environmental safety, health policy, health program planning and evaluation, outcomes management and leadership.

  • Clinical practica afford students the opportunity for exploration, analysis and application of community health theory and advanced infection control and environmental safety concepts.

  • Emphasis is placed on the student’s engagement in system-wide, interdisciplinary projects aimed at reducing the risks from infectious disease and bio-threats.

  • Students will have guided clinical experiences in assessment, program planning, designing protocols and interventions, and evaluating outcomes using conceptual models and evidence-based methods.

The program is designed to cover the health care continuum from screening and trend analysis to management and control of infectious and environmental threats. Students are required to complete 41 semester hours for graduation. Clinical hours can be divided over several semesters. Both traditional MSN and RN-MSN options are available. A 15-semester hour graduate certificate program is also available for nurses and non-nurses interested in infection control and environmental safety. Rolling admissions with classes offered fall, spring and summer semesters. For more information, contact Mickey Hade at <> or (708) 216-9556. Visit our Web site at <>.


The Robert Wood Johnson executive Nurse Fellows Program is seeking applicants for an advanced leadership program for nurses in senior executive roles in health services, public health and nursing education who aspire to help lead and shape the U.S. health care system. Up to 20 three-year fellowships will be awarded in 2006. Apply now at <> until Feb. 1, 2006.


This year’s APHA Annual Meeting promises to be full of exciting and informative events. The Public Health Nursing Section will provide sessions that cover a variety of public health issues. Examples of presentation topics include:
  • Beijing Plus 10: Global Policy Changes for Women
  • Building Evidenced-Based Practice for HIV Prevention
  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Responses: Expanding Nursing’s Scope of Practice
  • Public Health Nursing and the Practice Doctorate
There will also be a student poster session and an oral session featuring up-and-coming public health nurse researchers. And don’t forget the PHN Section Luncheon and the Quad Council reception on Sunday evening. So, please join us in the City of Brotherly Love for what promises to be the best APHA conference ever!!!