Sep 26, 2017

End of Public Health Program Is Just the Beginning, Says Leader

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Nurse Leaders gathered in Atlanta September 5–7 for the completion of our two-year leadership program. I’d like to share some thoughts from our days together.

This is a group of 25 senior public health nurse leaders, representing 23 states, chosen to work with state-based Action Coalitions of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, to promote a Culture of Health while implementing Institute of Medicine recommendations. These new friends of mine represent the best in wisdom, fearlessness, passion, and pure devotion to their work and their communities. I am humbled to be a part.

We talked about our projects over the two years, but I was blown away by the breadth and depth of the work when I heard the presentations and saw the posters at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The work ranged from creating wrap-around services for people with addictions; to developing healthy brains through increasing loving words to babies; to development of a screening tool for social determinants of health; to using the state fair as a venue to promote healthy people and communities; and more!

For me, the program provided camaraderie. It was a safe place to try new things and learn from others who understood and respected where I was and where I was going. They loved me through trying times with my health. They became trusted friends.

The program also gave me the opportunity to work with the Arkansas Action Coalition. And, yes, I think they are the best Action Coalition! We worked together on a two-part project to develop nurse leaders who can work with their communities to build a Culture of Health. This included completing a Delphi study of Arkansas nursing deans and directors to learn their perspectives on integrating Culture of Health concepts into their curricula; and integrating the Culture of Health framework into Nurses on Boards training for emerging and seasoned nurse leaders.

My Arkansas Action Coalition Culture of Health team used many of the tools we practiced at our Public Health Nurse Leader (PHNL) sessions to define our project and strategies. We used the tools to foster creative juices and consensus. The team developed into a cohesive group who shared responsibilities and each rose to lead key components of the project. They’ve presented about the project across the state and have had abstracts accepted across the country. I couldn’t be prouder!

When I finished my Doctor of Nursing Practice nearly a decade ago, family members celebrated and said “You’re done,” except my uncle, who whispered, “Now the work really starts!” It is the same with being an RWJF PHNL graduate. The work really starts; and this time, together with awesome partners and friends.

Patti Scott is clinical director at the Office of Primary Prevention at the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville. She was one of 25 public health nurse leaders chosen in 2015 for the RWJF Public Health Nurse Leaders program.

You can see photos of Patti and the other PHNLs at their graduation on our Facebook page