Public Health Nursing: Three Case Studies

Many nurses who’ve earned a bachelor of science in nursing work one-on-one with patients, but there’s also a need for nurses to treat the community at large. Anna Maria College recognizes this, which is why its online RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) program is built on a foundation of holistic care with a powerful emphasis on multicultural and community nursing. As a public health nurse, you can help develop and implement community health programs that positively impact far more individuals than you could treat in a one-on-one setting. Here are three case studies of community health initiatives like the ones you might be involved with as a public health nurse.

The New England Asthma Innovation Collaborative

To combat New England’s high asthma rates, Boston-based Health Resources in Action created The New England Asthma Innovation Collaborative, a project that sends nurses, community health workers and asthma educators to the homes of low-income families. The helpers have shared supplies and knowledge designed to lessen asthma’s triggers with nearly 1,200 children and their caretakers. As a result, the area has seen a decline in the number of urgent-care and hospital visits, as well as the number of sick days taken by residents of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. The project was one of four recipients of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Leadership in Asthma Management Award in 2016.1

Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Store

Usually, when people visit the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit health care company based in Rochester, Minnesota, they are in need of healing. But Mayo also wanted to proactively help people in the community live healthier lives, so it opened a retail store in Minnesota’s Mall of America in 2011.2 The store offered products, educational information and clinics where shoppers could discuss health topics directly with a Mayo representative. While the retail experiment didn’t take off for the health care company (the store was open just a year and a half), it wasn’t a complete failure. Mayo executives reported they learned about consumer spending habits. Most importantly, they discovered people are used to paying for things related to health care with insurance and are not as willing to shell out cash, a key finding that could be used to shape future company initiatives.3

Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

(Ed. Note: Research suggests that this is a hypothetical problem and not a real place, so it is framed accordingly).
The Healthy People 2020 MAP-IT framework, which stands for Mobilize-Assess-Plan-Implement-Track, gives communities an outline for how to put a health plan in action. To demonstrate the phases at work, consider a hypothetical problem of high lead poisoning rates in fictional Springfield County. The county had its state’s highest rate of childhood lead poisoning, with elevated blood lead levels found in 5.2 percent of children in the county while only 2.1 percent of children in the rest of the state suffered from elevated blood lead levels. To prevent future cases of lead poisoning, local leaders joined together to form the Lead Poisoning Prevention Task Force. The task force concentrated on making public housing units safer by removing lead paint and installing air filters. Two years after the task force formed, reports of elevated blood lead levels dropped 0.75 percent and community members said they felt sick less often.4

These are just a few examples of influential community health programs that nurses with a specialty in public health might be involved with. Anna Maria College’s online RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) program prepares students interested in this type of work, offering classes that focus on public health trends and proper care delivery. For further details about this convenient and flexible online program, request more information online or call 877-265-3201.

1 “EPA Recognizes Boston Organization for Work to Reduce Asthma in New England.”

2 “Mayo Clinic Healthy Living at Mall of America.”

3 “One Lesson Mayo Learned From Its MOA Store.”

4 “MAP-IT in Action – In the Community: A County Health Department Addresses Lead Poisoning.”