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Public Health Nursing in Ireland: A Critical Overview*

Authors


  • Jean Clarke is Head of Department, Department of Nursing and Health Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland.

  • *

    This paper has been developed from a presentation made at the Annual Conference of the Institute of Community Health Nursing, Ireland, in The O'Reilly Hall, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, September 29, 2001.

†Jean Clarke, Department of Nursing and Health Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland. E-mail: jclarke@wit.ie

Abstract

Abstract  The World Health Organization have stressed the importance of nurses and midwives as a “force for health” in society's efforts to tackle the public health challenges of our time. The public health challenges are both diverse and complex. Principally, they emanate from a social model of health that takes cognizance of our behavior, our environment, and the historical, political, and cultural structures that facilitate health or militate against it. This paper provides a critical overview of public health nursing in Ireland, toward situating both our contribution to public health and some of the challenges that lie ahead of us. Specifically, it looks at nonquantifiable practice, where, through the presentation of stories, the wealth of public health nursing work is demonstrated in the ordinary voices of public health nurses. The potential risk of ignoring and minimizing the contribution of public health nursing in future developments in primary care in Ireland is discussed. Finally, it is proposed that public health nurses need to get political.

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