Public Health Nursing
Section Newsletter
Spring 2004

Message from Section Chair Kay Bender

By the time you are reading this, it will be spring in your area. I hope that the first few months of 2004 have been good ones for you and for your work in protecting and promoting the health of the public! I know many of you are stressed right now, with budget constraints and inadequate numbers of staff. Please know that, as a Section, we support what you are doing and are working at the national level to bring attention to this problem. Last fall, the Section submitted a proposal to the APHA Governing Council which describes the importance of public health nursing to the overall public health infrastructure. The proposal passed and is now listed on the APHA Web site, along with all of the other 2003 policy statements. We are using everywhere we can, and we would like to invite you to do the same. The Section has also established a Public Health Nursing Workforce Task Force, which has already been working diligently to develop strategies that the Section can do to further support the role and the work of public health nurses across the country. Look for their special session at the November Annual Meeting and reports of their progress on the Web site. The co-chairs of the task force are Jeanne Matthews and Beth Lamanna.

Another important task force established by the Section is working on the vital link between environmental health and public health nursing. This task force, chaired by Marjorie Buchanan, has already established strong linkages with the chair of the Environmental Health Section. Strategies are being developed for both sections to consider at our Annual Meeting in the fall. They will also have a special session at the Annual Meeting. Look for their reports on the Web site and at the meeting.

Four of our Section leadership will serve on the ANA Committee to review and revise the Scope and Standards of Public Health Nursing Practice. Betty Bekemeier, Beth Benedict, Phil Greiner, and I have been asked to serve on the committee, and the work has already begun. We will share reports of that work as we progress.

Our spring meeting of the Section Leadership was packed with business of the Section. Highlights include preparation for the ANCC site visit for CE Provider status. Beth Benedict and Colleen Hughes have lead that work, with assistance with others within the Section, as well as APHA key staff. We hope to have good news to share about that process very soon. Also, at the spring meeting, we discussed preliminary plans to ensure that our Section’s work centers on our desire to be sensitive to all members and potential members of the Section. Feleta Wilson has agreed to assist us in furthering that work, and we will be spending some time at the annual business meeting in that regard.

Finally, we have designated a special session for the annual meeting on social justice. An increasing amount of attention is being paid to this topic, and the Section leadership believes that we need to be at the forefront of those discussions. Betty Bekemeir is leading that work for us.

Let us hear from you about our current projects and about others that we may need to consider. Like most of us in our everyday work, the Section has selected 3-4 projects as top priority so that we can maximize our resources and give you the services that are most needed. However, if you think we have missed something, please let us know.

See you in Washington, D.C., in November !

APHA/PHN applies to ANCC for Provider Status

APHA and the PHN Section worked together and submitted an application to the American Nurses Credentialing Center for Provider Status of continuing nursing education on Feb. 1, 2004. The ANCC site visit is scheduled for May 27, 2004, and the ANCC Commission on Accreditation decision will be made at their meeting in late August.

The Section leadership wishes to let all Section members that we owe a large debt of gratitude to Dr. Georges Benjamin who made the final decision that allowed our submission possible. Dr. Benjamin recognized our Section’s priority to strengthen our continuing nursing education program and, in a broader sense, the continuing professional education program of the Association at-large. He designated staff to work with us. Alan Baker, the APHA Chief of Staff, is managing the process and he is a terrific person with a skill for keeping a ‘train moving’ no matter what it takes. Alan is working with Dr. Freddie Asinor, Manager of the APHA Continuing Professional Education program for all disciplines. Deborah Dillard, Alan Baker’s Adminstrative Assistant, is most generous about offering to help us, no matter how mundane the work.

Authors of the application included Colleen Hughes, Kaye Bender, Sonda Opperwal, Marjorie Buchanan and myself. The staff put the 450-page application together and delivered it to ANCC.

Dr. Benjamin and the PHN Education Committee have contracted with Lyn Desilets, RN, a 20+ year site visitor for ANCC, as our consultant for the entire process. Lyn reviewed our application, and her recommendations were incorporated into the final submission. On April 12, she spent the day with the staff, Colleen and myself at the APHA office conducting a working session in preparation for our site visit. We are now following through on her suggestions. A conference call is scheduled with Lyn and the entire APHA/PHN Continuing Education Provider Unit (CEPU) membership to prepare the group for its conference call with the site visitors.

To become compliant with the ANCC criteria, we formed the APHA/PHN CEPU. This Unit is co-chaired by the staff APHA Manager of CPE and the PHN Education Committee Chair. Members include the full education committee membership and a leader from the PHN Program Committee for the CE process in the Annual Meeting. The CEPU confers at least once every two months, is responsible for the self-study of how we are functioning to remain in compliance with the ANCC criteria and to provide quality programs.

Beginning this fall, the public health nursing will become part of the distance-learning program of APHA. Dr. Benjamin has expanded the program from journal-based to book- and journal-based. We will be involved in the choice of articles or book chapters from books that APHA publishes to develop a distance learning CE module. The module will be made available electronically giving contact hours for nursing or CME Category I for nurses, for continuing education hours for health educators and for physicians. APHA is also expanding the distance learning program from twice a year to quarterly. Nursing will be involved in every module from the fall of 2004 forward. Nursing may also be providing contact hours for other learning modules as they become available. Plan are being made for other modules to be developed beginning in 2005.

As many of you know, the PHN Section, with the unified support of our QUAD Council Leaders, testified before the ANCC Commission on Accreditation to reverse a denial for us to apply to become an Approver of continuing nursing contact hours. The ANCC heard, the letter of support from the ANA, the supporting testimony from Pamela Kulbok representing the Association of Community Health Nurse Educators, and Sharon Moffatt, President of the Assocation of State and Territorial Directors of Nursing, as I gave the PHN Section testimony. In the spring of 2003, the day before our mid-year meeting, ANCC let us know that the COA had reversed their denial and APHA/PHN would be eligible to apply for Approver Status. The PHN Education Committee has the Approver Status application fully drafted and close to being ready for submission in 2005 or 2006. The APHA/PHN CEPU is working with APHA executives to first establish our provider unit functions before seeking the Approver Status.

Certification for Community/Public Health Nursing

Certification is a method by which a profession gives formal recognition to individuals who have demonstrated competency in an area of specialization within a particular professional field. Based on standards, the certification validates the registered nurse’s knowledge, skills and abilities in a defined functional or clinical nursing area (American Nurses Association, 2003).

The specialty certification examination for community health nursing was first administered in 1980. To date a total of 1,083 nurses are certified (ANCC, 2003). This examination is open to baccalaureate prepared nurses who have practiced an equivalent of two years. The complete list of eligibility requirements is located in the ANCC certification catalogue. This specialty level examination is especially aimed at nurses who practice in numerous community-based settings, such as health departments, home health agencies, schools, health maintenance organizations, camps correctional institutions, and private offices. The focus of community health nursing in this examination is health promotion, health maintenance, health education, case management, and the coordination and continuity of care.

The clinical specialist in community/public health nursing examination was begun in 1990. As of December 31, 2003, 418 nurses are certified; 421 nurses were certified at the end of 2002 (ANCC, 2004). This advanced practice examination requires a master’s or higher degree in community health nursing or a baccalaureate degree in nursing along with a master’s or higher degree in public health with a specialization in community and/or public health nursing. The examination assumes that the advanced practice nurse in community health/public health nursing possesses clinical experience in assessing the health of a community and is proficient in planning, implementing, and evaluating population-focused programs. Knowledge of epidemiology, demographics, biometrics, environmental health, community structure and organization, community development, management, policy development, and case management are needed for the examination. More detail is provided in the certification catalogue.

Community health nursing educators should take one of the exams and encourage students to take the appropriate certification examination when they are eligible. Currently certification candidates need 500 practice hours to sit for the clinical specialist examination. If the graduate program does not contain 500 hours of supervised clinical practicum, the candidate must complete the additional hours after conferral of the master’s degree and within 12 months before applying for certification. This exception to the 500 hours within the graduate program will apply only until Jan. 1, 2006. After that date graduates who have not completed 500 hours within the educational program will not be allowed to sit for the examination (ANCC Certification). Faculty who teach in graduate community health nursing programs will want to examine their programs for needed changes before the 2006 deadline.

The ACHNE Web site lists a total of 108 graduate programs at the time of the survey. The number of graduates should have increased in the last few years, but the number of candidates taking the certification examination has not increased concomitantly. The number of nurses taking the clinical specialist examination did increase in 2002, but not enough. In order to maintain certification examinations, the number of candidates taking the exams needs to be adequate to examine the psychometric properties. Since the number of examinees has declined for the clinical specialist and the basic examination in community health nursing exam, ANCC will closely monitor both exams. If we want to retain the examinations for future generations of graduates, we need to assist with promoting both exams and keeping graduate programs current.


American Nurses Association. (2003). Nursing’s social policy statement (2nd ed.) Washington, D.C.:

ANCC.(2004). Unpublished data.

American Nurses Credentialing Center. (No date). ANCC Certification. Specialty nursing administration (basic, advanced), clinical nurse specialist (community health & home health), and modular certification exams. Washington, DC: American Nurses Credentialing Center, Commission on Certification.

Public Health Nursing Section Program

Our smooth transition this year has proven to me the importance of having a three-year structure in place for the PHN Program Chair. Our section is large and diverse. The program process is complex. We all strive for and benefit from a high quality program.

The PHN section has 214 abstract submissions. That is more then last year, when I rejected some worthy abstracts. I did it with regret. This year the Section leadership is limiting the number of presenters to five per session. Evaluations indicate this is a priority. Competing great sessions are always an issue. Despite all the issues each year, our section has more attendance and submissions. It all happens not because of the Chair but because of an involved Section membership who are interested enough to: 1. Share their research and experience, and 2. Participate in the process by being reviewers and presiders as well as presenters. We are blessed to have a vital and involved membership. Thank you all for making our Section look so good.

Our Section’s first open business meeting is on Sunday. Then a business meeting is held each weekday at from 6 - 8 a.m. Stop in, see the activity and join in the discussion. The Quad Council will be Sunday evening. Our section is looking into one evening social/business meeting; look for that on Tuesday.

Those of you considering submitting an abstract for 2005 should be aware that special sessions must be approved by the Section at the Spring Business meeting in Washington, D.C. Be prepared to submit your plan or idea at that time or get it to the Program Chair so she can submit your idea. Those with connected abstracts, who want to be in the same session, need to be submitted individually and the Program Chair needs a list of the abstracts and authors who wish to be considered as a unit. In that case, all abstracts would have to be accepted. The Program Chair makes the final decision.

You can reach me at <>

2004 Program Management Deadlines

April 26 All sessions will be downloaded for the
Advance Program. Sessions that are not
finalized and assigned a pre-approved
time slot will not appear in the

May 3 Solicited abstract submission website

May 4-May 26 Review window for all solicited

May 7 Deadline to accept/reject contributed

May 7 – May 28 Sessions arranged online

May 31 E-mail notification of accept/reject
abstracts sent to all submitters.

June 1 Web site for Advance Program goes LIVE
for public view at

August 16 End of program planners access to
Web site.

August 31 Non-member Invited Speaker one-day
request. Audio Visual request.

November 6-10 132nd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

November 11 2005 Program Planners Meeting in

Topics Chosen and Number of Abstracts Submitted

25 Community Partnership
14 Evidenced-Based Population-Focused Practice
18 Health Access for Vulnerable Populations
4 Health Communications
16 Issues and Innovations in PHN Practice
6 Nursing and Global Health
12 Nutrition, Exercise and Lifestyle in Health
15 Other Areas of Interest
16 Public Health Nursing and the Environment
13 Public Health Nursing Competencies
47 Public Health Nursing Education
15 Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health
5 Recruiting Minority Populations into Nursing
0 Social Justice in Health

Expanded Access to Annual Meeting Sessions

NEW! E-ssentialLearning

APHA is expanding the educational experience of both presenters and attendees at the APHA Annual Meeting by investing in LCD projectors, computers and new Web-based technology for all scientific sessions. This new technology will enable voice and PowerPoint presentations to be recorded and uploaded to the APHA Web site following the meeting, thus extending the life of the meeting and providing access to hundreds of actual scientific session presentations that Annual Meeting registrants may have missed while attending other sessions.

Annual Meeting attendees can receive full access to these expanded sessions by registering for E-ssentialLearning on the Annual Meeting registration form. Special introductory discounted fees are $25 for Annual Meeting session presenters, $50 for APHA members (who are not session presenters), and $100 for non-members and are in effect for anyone registering for the full APHA Annual Meeting by the Oct. 1 pre-registration deadline. These fees will increase substantially for anyone registering on-site at the Annual Meeting in Washington.

Log-in information and password access to these E-ssentialLearning sessions will be provided to registrants immediately following the Annual Meeting.

Presenters Able to Upload PowerPoint Presentations in Advance

LCD projectors and computers are now included as part of the standard audiovisual package in each session room. This new technology will enable presenters to upload their PowerPoint presentations in advance of the meeting and have them pre-loaded on the APHA session computers. Individual presentations then begin with a click of the mouse. The cost and inconvenience of bringing a computer to the Annual Meeting has been eliminated for presenters allowing them to take advantage of new technologies and be a part of the E-ssentialLearning experience.

From the Membership Committee

I have a friend who says public health nursing is sort of like the Marines…. “We want a few good (or great) nurses.” (Gordon, 1980…etc.) It’s the truth. We want the best and brightest of nurses practicing in our field. We want people with a sense of altruism and respect of humans. In my opinion, public health offers the best of the essence of nursing.

If you are reading this article I encourage you to think of a nurse or nursing student who seems to “have it.” I encourage you to invite them to become a part of our organization. It is incredibly easy to become an active part of the PHN Section. All you have to do is contact one of the officers or committee chairs. If you and the person you have contacted were to offer your services to the section as a team, you would have the opportunity to make a difference in public health nursing! Please contact one of us and let’s all make a difference. We Want YOU!!


Public Health Nurses have been actively involved in disaster planning and response for decades. Following the events of September 11, 2001, new public health nursing roles have evolved in preparing for and responding to disasters and terrorist attacks. The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Program is part of a nationwide preparedness training and education program for state and local health care providers, first responders, and governments. Its mission is to “ensure the availability and rapid deployment of life-saving pharmaceuticals, antidotes, other medical supplies, and equipment necessary to counter the effects of nerve agents, biological pathogens, and chemical agents.” The SNS stands ready for immediate deployment to arrive within 12 hours to any U.S. location in the event of a terrorist attack using a biological toxin or chemical agent directed against a civilian population.

Louisiana‘s Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health (OPH) conducted a full scale exercise as part of the CDC’s SNS program during March 15–18, 2004. The CDC has given Louisiana its highest rated level of preparedness for bioterrorism – “green status” for the state’s successful response to a simulated plague outbreak. The three-day exercise explored and tested the Office of Public Health’s capabilities, in addition as to how OPH, as well as Louisiana’s hospitals, first responders and local governments would respond to a sudden chemical or biological epidemic. Critical to the success of the drill was public health’s capacity to receive, stage, and dispense SNS assets.

Public health nurses at the state, regional and local levels were instrumental in SNS planning, particularly in the dispensing arena in delivering the “pills to the patient.” The Office of Public Health’s nursing staff was primarily utilized in the dispensing clinics in which four operational clinics prophylaxed an average of 393 patients per hour. Dispensing station rates at each clinic were 35 – 36 patients per hour. The clinic and dispensing station flow rates were established to extrapolate the time it would take to prophylaxis approximately 300,000 people utilizing 28 operational clinics. The estimated time to prophylaxis 300,000 patients with all 28 clinics operating was 37 hours. Public health nursing involvement was critical to the success of the exercise. Louisiana joins only two other states with “green status” from CDC. Valuable lessons were learned as a result of the “mock” drill; thereby, strengthening public health’s capacity, competency, and infrastructure.

In Appreciation of Our 40 Year Members

Many thanks, & we're looking forward to your participation for many more years to come!

Beverly C. Flynn, PhD

Rita Joan Haahn, MSPH, BSN

Jeanne Johnston, MPH, RN, BSN

Wanda Marra, MPH, MA

Shirley Louise Smale, MPH

Florence M. Tankevich, MS, RN

Shirley T. Van Zetta, MPH

Doris L. Wagner-Ferguson, MS

Grant Announcements

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation Invites Applications for Access Grants
With a mission to expand access to health care, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) Foundation makes grants in program areas that will have a significant impact on the health of Massachusetts's low income and uninsured residents....
Deadline: Sept. 23, 2004 (Letters of Inquiry)
Posted: March 25, 2004

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Offers Grants to Expand Faith in Action Volunteer Health Care Program
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is offering grants to expand Faith in Action, an interfaith volunteer caregiving program that helps to better the lives of people with long-term health needs....
Deadline: Open
Posted: March 19, 2004

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Invites Proposals for Local Initiative Funding Partners Program
To be eligible for this program, projects must offer community-based services that are new and innovative for the community, if not for the county, state, or nation....
Deadline: July 14, 2005