Public Health Nursing Practice Council Charter
Public Health Nurses (PHNs) are guided by standards of practice known as the nursing process and standards of professional performance which describe competencies in the professional role. These are known as the Scope and Standards of Public Health Nursing and are based on research and knowledge from nursing and other sciences (ANA, 2007, p. 14). In addition to reflecting the values and priorities of the profession, standards provide direction for professional nursing practice and a framework for the evaluation and improvement of practice (ANA, 2004, p.12). While these standards reflect the philosophical values of the nursing profession, they cannot account for all practice situations a public health nurse may encounter.
A number of practice issues have come to the attention of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Public Health Nurse Consultants (PHNCs), yet there has been no collective way in which to address these issues. Additionally, the practice of public health continues to evolve and includes many other public health disciplines such as epidemiologists, health educators, social workers and public health planners. The expansion of public health practitioners has undoubtedly enriched the practice and elevated the population health approach inherent with public health, yet most other public health disciplines are not required to adhere to the stringent licensing standards that public health nurses do. While PHNs function in an autonomous environment, there is a high degree of accountability for the nursing care provided. Out of a need to address nursing practice issues and assure a competent PHN practice in Minnesota, the state-wide PHN Practice Council was established.
The PHN Practice Council is a collaborative effort between local health department PHN experts (one representative from each region) and MDH PHNCs. Nursing practice issues are addressed collectively and systematically in order to develop recommended PHN practice guidelines and tools which PHNs can reference and utilize within their practice.
Practice issues are complex with multiple contributing factors. Timeline for each issue’s development will be variable according to the complexity of each issue, the amount of evidence-based findings located and additional topic research necessary. As issues are brought forth, a focused discussion process will be utilized with all members of the council. The process will be completed in order to fully understand the presenting issue, the contributing factors, and outcome expectations for each issue.
Monthly conference calls are held on the 4th Wednesday of the month, from 2:30 until 4 p.m.
LHD PHN experts
- Provide local public health perspective on nursing practice issues
- Provide review and critical analysis throughout guideline development
- Bring emerging/additional nursing issues for review forward to the council
- Provide regional LPHA groups with council updates and developed guidelines of practice; the process for this will vary according to region
- Develop/disseminate agenda
- Conduct meeting facilitation
- Conduct topic research and develop draft versions of PHN practice guidelines/tools throughout the length of each practice issue
- Obtain and invite expert resources as needed to assist with topic discussion and development of recommended PHN practice guidelines/tools
- Disseminate PHN practice guidelines/tools to LPHA Policy and Practice Committee and the Minnesota Board of Nursing for review and others as appropriate
- Produce recommended PHN guidelines and tools for each issue based on consensus from nursing practice council members
- Conduct internal reviews and revisions of recommended PHN guidelines and tools to ensure they are current with evidenced-based practice.
Invited content expert members
- Knowledgeable public health nursing perspective on the practice issue;
- Local resources utilized; and
- Review and critical analysis throughout development of the guideline.
Recommended PHN practice guidelines and tools that have been reached by consensus from a group of practicing public health nurses. The final product for each PHN practice guideline will depend on the issue and how the product will be of most use for LHDs. Examples include reference documents, flowcharts, tree diagrams, and others as determined by the group.