Public health nursing represents the foundation of the U.S. public health system, particularly in predominantly rural and frontier states. Increasing attention has recently been paid to strengthening the public health infrastructure and workforce in response to disaster preparedness concerns. Major concerns regarding the current and future shortage of public health nurses have been raised at the national and state levels (The Quad Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations, 2006; Health Resources Services Administration, 2005; Gehrke, 2007). Factors contributing to the shortage include the aging nursing workforce, inadequate funding and salaries, lack of qualified applicants, and ineffective recruitment and retention. In some states vacancy rates for public health nurses reach 20 percent with turnover rates up to 14 percent (Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, 2005). Unfortunately there is limited current research information regarding the state of public health nursing in Idaho as well as other, predominantly rural and frontier areas. The purpose of the Idaho Public Health Nursing Study, which was conducted in the spring of 2007, was to describe the current status of public health nursing in Idaho.
Bigbee, Jeri L.; DeMeyer, Jody; Gehrke, Pam; and Otterness, Nancy. (2008). "Idaho Public Health Nursing Study". RN Idaho, 31(1), 10-11.