PDF of document phn_mini
Title and Credits
What is a Public Health Nurse?
Critical Functions
Funding Sources
Survey Background
and Methodology
Retirement Concerns
      Table 1: Average Age by Region (Universe)
  Table 2: Regional Age Distribution (Universe)
Description of Sample
Response Rate
      Table 3: Response Rates by Region
  Table 4: Response Rates by Age Group
Age and Demographics Distribution
      Table 5: Respondent Age Distribution by Region
      Table 6: Respondent Job Title by Age Group
  Retirement Plans
      Table 7: Respondents’ Retirement Plans by Age Group
      Table 8: Highest Degree Obtained in Nursing by Respondent Age Group
Education Distribution
      Table 9: Highest Degree Obtained in Nursing for Respondents by Region
      Table 10: Respondent Job Classification by Highest Education Completed in Nursing
  Retirement Plans
      Table 11: Respondents Plans to Retire by Highest Education Completed in Nursing
Tenure Distribution
      Table 12: Respondents’ Reported Tenure as a PHN by Region
      Table 13: Satisfaction
Intention to Leave
Why Would You Leave Nursing?
      Table 14: Why Would You Leave Nursing Altogether?
      Table 15: Longevity
Funding Source
Starting Work in PHN
      Table 16: Primary Reason You Chose to Work in Public Health
  Staying in PHN
      Table 17: Primary Reason You Choose to Stay in Public Health
Appendix A



As expected, nurses working in public health were more satisfied with their workplaces than were nurses working in hospitals and long-term care t13facilities (see Table 13). In fact, 20 (74.1%) of the workplace measures were significantly different, including four of the seven factors (see Table 13). All of the statistically significant differences indicated higher levels of satisfaction among the public health nurses. The most dramatic differences were seen in “Adequacy of RN staffing where you work” (4.0 vs. 3.1), “Support from your nursing administration” (3.9 vs. 3.0), “Employee benefits” (4.1 vs. 3.1), “Adequacy of clerical support services” (4.1 vs. 3.1), and “Time available for patient education” (4.1 vs. 3.2).

There were few significant differences between public health nurses and their hospital and long-term care nurse counterparts on community satisfaction measures. Only “Economic opportunities,” “Daycare services,” and “Mental health services” were significantly different between the groups.

Public health nurses were somewhat more similar to ambulatory care nurses than hospital and long-term care nurses. However, the groups differed significantly on 15 (55.6%) workplace satisfaction measures. For most of the indicators, public health nurses were more satisfied; however, there were two indicators (“Amount of paperwork required” and “Interactions with physicians”) in which the ambulatory nurses were more satisfied. The most dramatic differences wherein public health nurses were more satisfied were seen in “Opportunities for continuing education” (4.0 vs. 3.3), “Employee benefits” (4.1 vs. 3.3), and “Time available for patient education” (4.1 vs. 3.4).

Like hospitals and long-term care nurses, ambulatory care nurses were similar to public health nurses on measures of community satisfaction. Significant differences were found only in “Economic opportunities,” “Daycare services,” “Mental health services,” and “Restaurants/entertainment.”

Intention to Leave

There were so few public health nurses who indicated an intention to leave that little information can be released without compromising the confidentiality of the respondents. Of the 136 who returned questionnaires, only seven stated that they planned to leave their current job within a year. Of those, almost half (3 or 42.9%) were planning to retire.

Why Would You Leave Nursing?

Question 49 directed respondents to select up to four factors that would t14influence a decision to leave nursing altogether. As seen in Table 14, the selected answers vary by work setting. Nurses working in public health were more likely to select “I plan to retire,” “I feel burned out from nursing,” and “Better advancement opportunities outside nursing” than nurses in other settings. However, they were less likely to select “Feel overworked, “I need more autonomy,” and “Better work schedules available outside nursing.” They were also less likely to leave because of concerns about injury, either to self or patients.


As seen in Table 15, the average length of tenure as a public health nurse for those who responded to the questionnaire was 11 years. The range was t150 to 39 years. By region, the state supervisors had the longest tenure at 18.6 years, followed by the central region at 13.8 years. The southeast and southwest regions had the shortest average tenures with 9.4 and 10.0 years, respectively.

There was no significant relationship between experience as a public health nurse and the satisfaction factors. However, there were three correlations between individual satisfaction indices and public health tenure. Satisfaction scores with RN staffing and with adequacy of clerical staff were both inversely related to years of experience (p < .03 and p < .04, respectively). There was also a positive relationship between public health experience and satisfaction with opportunities to use nursing skills (p < .02).

Funding Source

There were no significant differences in satisfaction factors or individual satisfaction measures between county and state funded nurses. Similarly, there were no differences in satisfaction between position titles.

Starting Work in Public Health Nursingt16

Question 14 of the questionnaire asked respondents to select the primary reason for choosing to work in public health. Table 16 contains the results. The largest percentage (33.1%) selected “Work schedule.” “Feeling the work is important” was the second most popular choice with 16.9% of the total.

Staying in Public Health Nursing

Similar to Question 14 of the questionnaire, Question 15 asked t17respondents to select the primary reason for staying in public health. The majority (28.7%) selected “Feeling the work is important” followed by “Work schedule” with 13.2% (see Table 17).

< previous | next >