This study described the extent to which position descriptions (PDs) for public health directors of nursing (DONs) and non-DON public health nursing (PHN) supervisors in Ohio local health departments incorporate national standards of PHN practice and competencies for public health managers.
Ninety-four PDs were obtained from 66 local health departments. Statements in each PD were analyzed for congruence with the 2007 American Nurses Association Public Health Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice (ANA Standards) and the Council on Linkages Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals (COL Competencies). Health department and PD characteristics were also obtained. COL Competencies within each COL skill domain were pooled for analysis.
Position descriptions addressed an average of 7.6 of the 20 ANA Standards/Substandards (range, 1-15). The most commonly addressed ANA Standards were Leadership, Regulatory Activities, Collegiality and Professional Relationships, and Planning; the least often addressed were Population Diagnosis and Priorities, Professional Practice Evaluation, Outcomes Identification, Advocacy, and Evaluation. Position descriptions addressed an average of 3.6 of the 8 COL skill domains (range, 0-6). Financial Planning and Management, Policy Development/Program Planning, Community Dimensions of Practice, and Analytic/Assessment were the most commonly addressed COL skill domains, whereas Cultural Competence and Basic Public Health Sciences were the least commonly addressed. About 75% of the PDs included task statements that did not correspond to any of the ANA Standards or COL Competencies.
Results indicate that PDs do not reflect compliance with professional mandates for the practice of PHN. This lack of fit between PDs and nationally recognized standards of practice and competencies suggest that PHN may be undifferentiated as a public health discipline and as a nursing specialty.