Use of the Public Health Nursing Bag in the Academic Setting


Elizabeth (Libby) Richards, Purdue University School of Nursing, 502 N. University Street, West Lafayette, IN. E-mail:


ABSTRACT The nursing bag has been a vital tool for public and community health nurses since the early 1900s. However, the practice of utilizing the nursing bag has declined. This study sought to determine whether the practice of teaching students to use a public health nursing bag when making home visits should continue. Deans and directors of all schools of nursing with baccalaureate programs listed on the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education Web site (n=437) were e-mailed an exploratory, descriptive self-report survey. Although 32% of responding schools continued to utilize a standard public health bag during home visits, the majority did not. Lack of use of the bags was primarily related to cost and the lack of research demonstrating its efficiency in enhancing the home visit and its value in promoting infection control. The researchers concluded that they would continue to teach the use of the public health nursing bag. It provides a receptacle for equipment and supplies, reinforces the need to be prepared for a variety of situations, and serves as a reminder that handwashing is a routine part of every client's care, regardless of the setting.