Comparison of the Dissemination and Implementation of Standardized Public Health Nursing Competencies in Academic and Practice Settings

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Objectives: To assess the use of the “Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals” standards in practice and academic work settings by public health nurses (PHNs), and to determine differences between practitioners and faculty.

Design: Nonexperimental, descriptive study using a cross‐sectional survey.

Sample: Three public health nursing (PHN) organizations sent invitations to all members. A total of 334 (18.7%) from an estimated 1,786 members completed the survey.

Measurements: The investigators developed a 17‐item web‐based survey with open‐ and closed‐ended responses, using Rogers' diffusion of innovations as a theoretical framework.

Results: Respondents are equally familiar with the competencies for public health professionals disseminated by the Council on Linkages and for PHNs by the Quad Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations (Quad Council). Two thirds of PHNs are aware of the competencies after only 2 years, primarily from professional PHN organizations. Faculty are adopting and using the competencies at a significantly faster rate than practitioners.

Conclusions: Faculty and practitioners who use the competencies value them, and rarely discontinued their use after adoption. Efforts to promote diffusion among faculty and especially practitioners need to continue. Professional organizations can actively provide and share examples of useable formats and best practices associated with the competencies.