The health unit employs nurses who are registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario (www.cno.org) and maintain that registration on a yearly basis. Nursing services are provided to the public using a collaborative model with four nursing categories: Public Health Nurses, Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses and Nurse Practitioners.
The Chief Nursing Officer is an executive level nursing position that contributes to the health unit’s strategic planning and decision making; by facilitating recruitment and retention of qualified, competent public health nursing staff; and enabling quality public health nursing practice.
Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
The Chief Nursing Officer is the formal leader for nursing within the health unit and establishes a vision of excellence in public health nursing practice. The Chief Nursing Officer is an expert in public health nursing practice specific to individual client services and community and policy development. The CNO has advanced understanding of nursing standards of practice, evidence-based nursing practice and quality assurance principles. The CNO promotes effective communication amongst nursing staff across the health unit and promotes and facilitates opportunities for inter-professional practice throughout the organization. The CNO is a member of the health unit’s Executive team and provides leadership on agency level initiatives. The CNO represents the agency at the local, regional, provincial and national level.
The CNO is master’s prepared with a focus in public health or nursing or a relevant academic equivalent (e.g. community health, health promotion and health administration etc.).
Public Health Nurses (RN, PHN)
Public health nurses are registered nurses with a university degree in nursing. They work in many programs at the health unit to promote, protect and preserve health in your community. For example, public health nurses can answer questions you might have about your health or the health of your family. You can turn to public health nurses for useful advice on breastfeeding and ways to cope through baby’s first days at home. If you want to make healthy changes in your life, they can walk you through the steps to healthy eating, active living or going smoke free. They can offer help to stop the misuse of drugs or alcohol or review how you can prevent injuries in your home and community. They can share ideas on healthy ways to cope with stress as well as answer your questions and help you make choices about sexually transmitted diseases and birth control. They also know about diseases such as mumps and measles.
Public health nurses meet with people in their homes, at work, in schools and other community settings. They work closely with community agencies such as health care providers, child care centres, community health centres, Ontario Early Years Centres and emergency workers. Public health nurses are your partners in health – working with you and others to make your community a safe and healthy place to live, work and play.
Registered Nurses (RN)
Registered nurses have successfully completed a diploma in nursing from a community college. Registered nurses work in the vaccine preventable disease program, and use a variety of skills to increase awareness of vaccine preventable diseases and promote immunizations in general. Their work requires excellent knowledge of immunization; vaccines and vaccine preventable diseases, legislation related to public health immunization programs as well as strong communication skills to be able promote immunization as a very successful public health strategy. A critical part of the registered nurse’s job is helping individuals and communities make informed choices about protective and preventive health measures related to immunization. Registered nurses provide vaccines and offer advice and education to physicians and the public. They work in immunization clinics providing vaccine to people of all ages. As well, RNs participate in the surveillance of possible cases of vaccine preventable diseases and follow-up on reports of adverse events following immunization.
Registered Practical Nurses (RPN)
Registered practical nurses have completed a practical nursing diploma program from a community college. They respond to inquiries from the general public and health care providers and offer advice regarding immunization schedules, mandatory and publicly funded vaccines, general travel related concerns and the safe storage and handling of vaccine.
RPNs assess, update and maintain student immunization records in accordance with the Immunization of School Pupils Act. They promote, co-ordinate and administer publicly funded vaccines such as hepatitis B, meningitis C, and human papillomavirus in the school immunization program, as well as the 14-16 year booster for high school students.
RPNs plan and provide immunization clinics for the general public including infant, childhood, and adult population in the local health unit offices. They are also involved with presentations in the community to promote immunization.
Nurse Practitioners (NP or RN (EC))
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with specialized skills. They have a university degree in nursing along with advanced education and experience in physical assessment and management of disease. Nurse practitioners at the health unit work as part of the sexual health team where they provide services such as Pap tests, physical exams and prescriptions for birth control, advice for clients about healthy lifestyle choices including diet, exercise and smoking cessation. They test men and women of all ages for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; diagnose and treat sexually transmitted infections; and work with the other nurses in the sexual health team to counsel clients about healthy sexuality.