Get access

Bringing the Population into Focus: A Natural Development in Community Health Nursing Practice. Part I.


  • Margaret Diekemper R.N., M.S.N., C.S.,,

  • Lee SmithBattle R.N., D.N.Sc.,

  • Mary Ann Drake R.N., Ph.D.,

  • Margaret Diekemper is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the Maryville University Nursing Program, St. Louis, Missouri. Mary Ann Drake and Lee SmithBattle are Assistant Professors of Nursing at St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.

Address correspondence to Margaret Diekemper, Maryville University Nursing Program, 13550 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO 63141. E-mail:


An interpretive study conducted in a Midwestern metropolitan area was designed to examine expertise in everyday community health nursing (CHN) practice. Twenty-five nurses from three practice areas (traditional, nontraditional, and program development) participated in group and individual interviews and field observations, sharing stories of their practice. Transcribed interviews and field observation notes were analyzed as a text. One of the major findings of the study focused on experiences of the nurses as they developed the population aspects of their everyday practice. Part I describes the natural development of a population focus of CHN generalists whose care most often targeted individuals and families. The stories of how their practices evolved and were supported by their institutions provided insights into how nurses develop a broad population-focused practice perspective. Part II examines the practice of those CHN specialists who nurse their target populations from an intentional perspective. Their population-focused practice, in which they repeatedly displayed what the research team terms multilingual and multiperspectival skills, was solidly based in their prior individual and family-focused experience and expertise in program planning and evaluation.

Get access to the full text of this article