This was a question that was recently asked of the audience at the annual conference of the Association of Public Health Nurses. There were many inspiring answers, but one common theme, to make a difference in the lives of others. It’s been my experience that nurses who work in public health aren’t here because they “need a job”. It is a much deeper commitment to our community, especially the under-served.
One thread of the conference was the notion of public health nurses “going back to the future”. It was suggested that we connect with the historical nursing practice of Lillian Wald, who brought a voice to marginalized populations. As nurses, we have intrinsically known about the impact of social determinants of health, regardless whether or not these phrases and concepts were developed at the time we graduated nursing school. It was through our lived experiences, and our work as nurses that gave us insight on how to correct health inequities. We see the struggle of our communities. Even as we move “upstream”, public health nursing is still very much the same.
I am inspired every day by the expert care you provide to our communities. It is through a strong nursing workforce that we will change the disparities in our communities. The Nursing Office wishes each of you a peaceful Nurses Week. Please enjoy this slide show from the Henry Street House in New York City. Join us in going back to the future.