BACKGROUND: The first courses for public health nurses in Norway were held in the 1920s-1930s. In 1957, the Act regulating public health nursing was passed. Norwegian public health nurses have a primary role in promoting health and preventing illnesses. Their role has changed with a changing society. This article shows some of the challenges the nurses have faced. It focuses on collaboration, tasks, leadership and authority/status.
AIMS: The study's intentions are exploratory. It looks into how the nurses experience their changing role.
METHODS: A single case with an embedded design is the method chosen; the case is 'Changes in the role of the Norwegian public health nurse during the period 1984-2005'. Document analysis and interviews are sources of evidence.
FINDINGS: The findings show that public health nurses' visibility seems to be an important issue. There are some divergences between relevant literature on the nurses' professional status and the views of the nurses in the study. Several other public health professionals have lost tasks and formal positions of authority.
CONCLUSION: The nurses interviewed still feel that they are a respected and trusted profession despite being less visible. A recent study among parents who frequent local clinics confirms their important role. Can the nurses' lack of visibility have undesired outcomes? A profession that is unassuming, not visible and that fights silent battles may have problems being heard when it tries to promote issues concerning family health. Further studies are indicated.
2007. Vol. 54, no 2, 197-203 p.
Explorative Case Study; Health Professions; Norwegian Public Health Nurses; Organizational Change