Clinical Competency Development for Public Health Nurses
Registered nurses (RN) and Nurse Practitioners (APRNs) in Georgia practice under the Georgia Registered Professional Nurse Practice Act and the authority of the Georgia Board of Nursing. In addition, public health nurses (PHNs) practice under the Nurse Protocol Statute and must document preparation and performance specific to each medical act authorized by protocol. (Rules of Georgia Board of Nursing, Chapter 410-11-.03, Regulation of Protocol Use by Registered Nurses.)
To assure adequate preparation and performance to practice under protocol, and to comply with Department of Community Health’s Health Check regulations, public health nurses practicing under protocol must complete a baccalaureate level health assessment course and demonstrate competency in health assessment.
The five health assessment competencies for public health nurses practicing in Georgia are:
- Evidence-based knowledge of and ability to perform health assessments for designated or assigned ages, sexes, and populations.
- Ability to communicate effectively via written, oral, electronic, and other means with various, diverse individuals and populations.
- Ability to elicit data for a health history that includes physical, social, cultural, nutritional, mental, developmental and environmental information.
- Ability to differentiate normal/abnormal findings.
- Ability to interpret and apply findings to develop an appropriate plan of care to improve health.
Because the Department values baccalaureate preparation for all public health nurses, one step toward attaining the goal of advancing the education of public health nurses is to assist nurses in obtaining college credit for the health assessment course. Contingent upon availability of funds, the Department of Public Health currently reimburses health districts or counties for the cost of tuition paid to approved colleges or universities for public health nurses who take and pass this course.