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Keywords:

  • health care reform;
  • health departments;
  • history of public health nursing;
  • public policy;
  • public sector

ABSTRACT Public health nursing celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1993. In a guest editorial for Public Health Nursing Dr. Marla Salmon, then director of the Division of Nursing, Bureau of Health Professions, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, wrote a “retrospective vision” in which she projected the roles that American public health nurses would play in 21st century health care reform. The picture she painted was highly optimistic and 16 years later the profession has yet to realize the accomplishments Salmon envisioned: a more visible leadership in directing health policy, creation of systems that expand public health department roles in both direct and indirect services, cooperation among agencies, and empowerment of the communities and individuals served by the public health care system. As she saw it, the period between 1893 and 1993 was a prelude to the coming of age of public health nursing as a specialty. She cautioned that those who practice public health nursing between 1993 and 2093 are responsible for authoring the next volume of history through their own actions. This historical reprint originally appeared in the December 1993 issue of Public Health Nursing.