To explore perceived roles and activities of Saskatchewan public health nurses (PHNs).
This replication study surveyed Saskatchewan PHNs using the instrument developed by the Hamilton-Wentworth Social and Public Health Services Division in a 1992 survey of Ontario PHNs. This instrument is based on the roles and activities for community/public health nurses described by the Canadian Public Health Association (1990). Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the 124 responses received.
Most of the nurses perceived that they were at least somewhat prepared for all of the roles. The activities of: caring for individuals and families; immunizing; educating individuals, families, and groups; acting as a resource person for clients and lay helpers; linking those needing services to appropriate community resources; and using marketing strategies were carried out most often by PHNs. Activities within the roles of community developer, policy formulator, researcher and evaluator, and resource manager/planner/coordinator were carried out to a much lesser degree. The roles and activities being done less often were also the ones PHNs felt less prepared to do.
It is important, as health authorities begin to support a more preventive approach to health care, that PHNs are competent in the roles outlined by the Canadian Public Health Association. As well as preparing new graduates for these roles, it is essential to provide continuing education for practicing PHNs. Public health administrators must also support public health nurses in carrying out these roles.