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Public Health Nursing in Wisconsin

What is public health?

Public health is defined as a system, a social enterprise, whose focus is on the population as a whole. The public health system seeks to extend the benefits of current knowledge in ways that will have maximum impact on the health status of the entire population in several key areas:

  • Prevent injury, illness and the spread of disease.
  • Create a healthful environment and protect against environmental hazards.
  • Promote healthy behaviors and mental health.
  • Respond to disasters and assist communities in recovery.
  • Promote accessible, high-quality health services.

What is a public health nurse?

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; American Nurses Association (2007), Public Health Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice.)

Wisconsin's public health nurses apply nursing and public health principles to assess, develop, implement, and evaluate care plans and health programs related to health promotion, disease prevention, and health protection services for individuals, families, and the community (Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 139 (PDF)).

What is the goal of public health nursing in Wisconsin?

The goal of public health nursing throughout Wisconsin is to protect the health and safety of the people in our communities. To achieve this, public health nurses work with individuals, families, groups, and communities, especially those at increased risk of illness, injury, premature death, and disability. In collaboration with community partners and the public health system, public health nurses provide leadership and take action to identify and activate resources, services, and policies that protect health and respond to current and emerging threats to the public's health and safety.

The Wisconsin Public Health Nursing Practice Model (PDF) illustrates public health nursing as practiced in Wisconsin. It reflects community needs, professional nursing standards, state and local laws and regulations, and the evolution of public health practice.

For more information, please contact your Regional Public Health Nurse Consultant.

Last revised January 12, 2023