Rebuilding Community-Based and Public Health Nursing in the Wake of COVID-19

Patricia Pittman, PhD, FAAN; Jeongyoung Park, PhD


Online J Issues Nurs. 2021;26(2) 

In This Article


Events of the COVID-19 pandemic have reset the table for the healthcare workforce and specifically the profession of nursing. Even more clear is the danger of allowing our public health infrastructure to decay, as this analysis of nurses in the public health workforce alone suggests has happened.

To attract more nurses to this field, public and private employers will need to address relative compensation issues. Nursing programs will need to produce more nurses who are interested in and prepared to practice in community and public health. Local, state, and federal public health workforce programs will need to set measurable goals by region and publicly track progress.

The combined emphasis on equity and the public health workforce of the current administration provides a window of opportunity to reverse the historic, ongoing declines briefly described in this article in community and public health nursing. Rebuilding a stronger nurse workforce will not only prepare the United States to meet the challenges of future pandemics, but also have a positive upstream impact on the SDOH-related inequities that are endemic.