What is a PHN?

Welcome to the Association of Public Health Nurses (APHN). We are public health nurses (PHN) working across the 50 states and the US territories to promote the health and safety of the population and create healthy communities.

Public health nursing is defined as the practice of promoting and protecting the health of populations using knowledge from nursing, social, and public health sciences (American Public Health Association, Public Health Nursing Section, 1996). Public health nursing practice focuses on population health, with the goal of promoting health, and preventing disease and disability.

Public Health Nurses comprise the largest segment of the professional public health workforce and serve in many different critical roles. Public Health Nurses work with the individuals and families that compose the communities and the systems that affect the communities. They work in a variety of settings such as health departments, schools, homes, community health centers, clinics, correctional facilities, worksites, out of mobile vans and even dog sleds.

The knowledge and skills of Public Health Nurses enable them to make significant contributions to public health. Their clinical knowledge and unique relationships to those they serve assist in designing and implementing programs and policies to meet the needs of vulnerable populations. The combination of a clinical nursing background with knowledge from the public health and social sciences provide a sound basis for public health leadership positions.