History of Public Health Nursing

Public health nursing was founded by Lilian Wald. She was born in 1867 and grew up in New York City. She was educated through a two-year nursing program. She developed a passion for serving her own community and working with poor immigrants in New York. She first began with home nursing but then noticed similarities in the poor conditions. Thus, she start “public health nursing,” where she strived to educate communities on disease prevention, infection control, and personal hygiene (Lilian Wald, Founded Public Health Nursing).  In the early 1900s, she helped create the National Organization for Public Health Nursing and was the first president of this group.

Lillian Wald, Founded Public Health Nursing

(Photo of the common conditions in New York City “Lillian Wald, Founded Public Health Nursing“)

Her accomplishments include persuading the New York Board of Education to hire a school nurse, which later lead to the standard of having nurses in schools within the U.S. She also lobbied for health inspections in the workplaces to protect workers from unsafe conditions. Additionally, she encouraged workplaces to have nurses or medical professions on-site (Lilian Wald, Founded Public Health Nursing).

Today, public and community health nursing have vital importance around the world, as they work to education communities on diseases and how to prevent transmitting infections. Lilian Wald paved the path for nurses who have a passion for serving the community as a whole.


  1. (n.d.). Lillian Wald, Founded Public Health Nursing. Retrieved February 27, 2017, from http://www.workingnurse.com/articles/Lillian-Wald-Founded-Public-Health-Nursing

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