• competencies;
  • function;
  • history;
  • public health nursing

Abstract  Explaining the content of public health nursing practice is not a new phenomenon. This historical narrative examines two documents published in the first Public Health Nursing journal, in which the National Organization for Public Health Nursing (NOPHN) described the nature of public health nursing for the profession and for those who administered programs employing public health nurses. While changes in language reflect evolution of both the nursing profession and public health practice, consistencies in purpose and the core understanding of public health nursing link these documents conceptually to the recent statement of Public Health Nurse Competencies (Quad Council, 2003).