Activity in the last dozen years by the Quad Council, representing officials from American Nurses Association, the Public Health Section of the American Public Health Association, the Association of Community Health Nurse Educators, and the Association of State and Territorial Directors of Nurses (now the Association of Public Health Nurses), has been focused on enabling the Council on Linkages between practice and academia in developing PHN competencies for the generalist and the managerial level. With scientifically designed tools to measure competencies linked to the Core Competencies expected of all Public Health personnel, wide acceptance and utilization has been demonstrated nationally. However, this researcher observed a data gap between the academic preparation of graduating BS nurses and expected performance of practicing C/PHN's. Studies were lacking in measuring the perceptions of graduating BSN's in their preparation for work in the community and self-reported competencies exhibited in new practicing C/PHN's from baccalaureate programs. Likewise, there are competency assessment tools of a multidisciplinary nature, but none that thoroughly address the role and function of the nurse specifically in Public Health.
Might there be an association between the quality/extensiveness of community health nursing curriculum vs. recruitment and retention of C/PHNs in the workforce? Would PHN managers benefit from an assessment tool for performance based on the self-reported needs of the employee?
An assessment tool measuring perceptions of BSN students newly educated in community health theory and practice and those of new community health nurses (CHN's) has been under development through four (4) phases. The expectation was to contribute important data to Community Health Nurse Educators and their institutions concerning the effectiveness of education in this discipline toward competent practice and the confidence graduates possess for community practice. It is also expected to contribute data to C/PH workforce research in ways that inform about structuring staffing models, situating programs and services, establishing mentoring programs for employees and preceptorships for students, planning continuing education, and building multidisciplinary teams.
Sweeping changes are taking place in nursing education, causing community health nurse educators to innovate course content and student experiences in community settings in ways that accommodate limitations in resources and preceptor personnel, budget and time constraints, and health care delivery changes. The quality and scope of community-oriented, population-focused education are topics of current concern in that practicing C/PHN's must cross the bridge from nursing theory and knowledge acquisition and development to making meaning of their practice and perceiving the implication of competency.
The newly graduated BSN who enters the workforce at that point of praxis needs a measuring rod upon which to gauge professional growth. Absent a reliable, standardized assessment tool for this purpose, which focuses on nursing practice, C/PH employers are unable to select--on evidence--nurses who meet the requirements to carry programs and services forward efficiently. The assessment tool, “Perceptions and Realities of C/PHN Academic Preparation for Population-focused Employment” is offered as a multi-level, dual purpose asset to both education and practice. It is designed to measure student/educator/manager/practicing nurse perceptions of scope and depth of academic preparation for experiences and competencies in C/PH nursing practice, as well as skill and knowledge progression.
Therefore, the purpose of this study track is to demonstrate usefulness of this proposed tool through a “quadrangulated” research approach to determining the appropriateness, clarity, relevance, and value to the C/PHN specialty from the perspectives of student, educator, practitioner, and manager.
One more step is needed to establish efficacy . . . a broad national study. Then, it is expected that the profession of nursing and the specialty of community/public health will accept this tool as useful.
It is copyrighted.