There are over 600 public health nurses working in a range of public sector agencies in Colorado, not counting nurses performing similar functions in home health, correctional institutions, schools and other community settings. There are fourteen Organized Health Departments and thirty-nine County Nursing Services in Colorado.
Throughout its 100-year history, public health nursing has evolved from direct care for ill and vulnerable populations into a broader mission of promoting health and preventing disease by using tools such as assessment, policy development and assurance. In addition, public health nurses must be prepared to face bioterrorism and emerging infection disease threats. A shortage of trained nurses nationwide, and specifically in Colorado, poses a significant challenge, especially to rural communities.