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Public Health Nurses

Public Health Nurses practice in public health units located in Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith and Yellowknife. Emphasis is on health promotion, communicable disease control and primary health care management.

Core programs include prenatal health, maternal health, infant services, preschool health, school health, adult health, communicable disease prevention, chronic care services and health promotion activities.


The purpose of a Public Health Nurse is to provide comprehensive Public Health nursing services to residents of their respective region and/or community, in accordance with established standards of nursing practice, the philosophy, objectives, and policies of the Authority, the principles of Primary Health Care, and the NWT Public Health Act. The purpose of this position is to protect, restore and/or maintain the health status of clients experiencing various events during the life cycle (ie. pregnancy and childbirth), prevent or reduce the incidence of communicable diseases, and promote community wellness through health promotion, screening, and intervention activities

Public Health programs operate with a philosophy of prevention and assistance to clients in order to achieve and maintain the highest level of health and wellness that is possible for the individual. These programs involve working with several cultural groups and serve a population from newborn to the elderly. The incumbent will be responsible for Communicable Diseases, School Program and for developing community health promotion programs as well as implementing selected programs or activities and works collaboratively with other disciplines of the SHSSA in order to meet the overall goals and objectives

The Public Health Nurse is a member of a nursing team who provides direct nursing care to clients and their families. The incumbent works in a specialized area of nursing which requires additional training beyond that of the basic nursing training, in order to be effective in an expanded scope of practice that demands independent thinking and judgments outside of any set guidelines or practices.

The Public Health Nurse acts as a mentor for nursing students during practicum within the YHSSA. The incumbent will be required to provide seasoned advice and guidance to the students and act as a reference for standards of practice. Staff are utilized as "expert" resources on a wide range of specialized public health issues by other health care providers across the NWT.


The main responsibilities of a Public Health Nurse are as follows:

1. To provide comprehensive public health programs including Maternal Child, Communicable Diseases, and School Health. Within these programs are various services including but not limited to health promotion, Well-Child clinics, pre and post-natal classes, home visits, vision, hearing, speech and developmental testing, immunization clinics, Travel Clinic, STD and TB programs, and communicable disease surveillance, control and treatment in order to protect, prevent and reduce the incidence of communicable disease, promote a healthy life style and enhance community wellness.

2. To provide direct nursing care and perform sanctioned transfer of medical functions (i.e. dispensing medications), to clients using a problem solving approach to facilitate individualized nursing care to clients of the Public Health Unit.

3. To develop, facilitate, implement and modify health promotion activities based on the needs of the client.

4. To perform administrative functions that contribute to the effective functioning of the Public Health Unit and enhances program development, delivery and continuity of care.

Common Duties of a Public Health Nurse:

Deliver a wide variety of public health clinics and services both mandated and ones developed in response to community needs.

  • Evaluate community health programs on a continuing basis and modify programs for appropriateness,
  • Act as a resource for other community based health care workers, and
  • Promote safe and healthy environments in homes, schools, day cares, and worksites and in the general community.
  • Participate in committees, task forces, and research projects as related to the specialty programs.
  • Use the Nursing Process (assessment, planning, Implementation and evaluation) when providing direct client care and developing programs and services.
  • Advocate the dignity and self-respect of clients,
  • Promote the autonomy of clients and help them to express their health needs and values to obtain appropriate information and services,
  • Safeguard the trust of clients that information learned in the context of a professional relationship is shared outside the health care team only with the client's permission or as legally required,
  • Apply and promote principles of equity and fairness to assist clients in receiving unbiased treatment and a share of health services and resources proportionate to their needs.
  • Act in a manner consistent with their professional code of ethics, responsibilities and standards of practice.
  • Make decisions regarding client management and facilitates referrals to other health care professionals to ensure early diagnosis and prompt intervention in the therapeutic and disease process. Incumbents do limited diagnosing and treatment, such as TB lab/xray tests and can prescribe medications based on the YHSSA formulary for things such as STD's and TB.
  • Use a holistic approach to facilitate individual learning of clients and their families in relation to patient illness or injury (i.e. self-care, health promotion, etc.).
  • Assess the client for physical and psychological needs, their knowledge of their health, disease process and learning needs
  • Facilitate individual learning in relation to patient illness or injury.
  • Research, develop, revise and evaluate on an ongoing basis, educational resources necessary to support clients.
  • Participate in program development for specialty program education and teaching.
  • Provide health promotion presentations and opportunities in various locations within the community on a wide range of health topics such sex education and prenatal and postnatal classes, etc.
  • Order supplies, prepares reports, processes correspondence, etc.
  • Assist in the planning, development and evaluation of public health programs, services, and policies with a focus on continual improvement.
  • Collect and document demographic and statistical information.
  • Communicate with other members of the health care team regarding the client's health care to provide continuity of care and promote collaborative efforts directed toward quality patient care.
  • Communicate with the Medical Health Officer and Environmental Health Officer on issues pertinent to the Public Health Act.
  • Provide coaching and leadership to peers, students and other members of the health care team to develop skill levels necessary to achieve the standard of care.
  • Collaborate with other health care providers and community agencies in order to establish action and overlap within the community for resolution of health issues and promotion of healthy behaviours and public policy.
  • Collaborate with nursing colleagues and other members of the health care team (including teachers, physicians, OT's, Physiotherapists, Social Workers, etc.) to advocate health care environments that are conducive to ethical practice and to the health and well-being of clients and others in the setting.
  • Provide orientation to new employees on unit specific programs and mandate.
  • Participate on committees, task forces, and research projects as related to the Public Health Unit.