Our current practice of public health nursing has been shaped by many bold and innovative public health nurse leaders who have come before us. For APHN and for CPHNO, one of these PHN leaders is LaVohn Josten.
LaVohn served in public health nursing practice at the state level and in public health nursing education over two decades in the 1980s and 90s. LaVohn also served as President of ASTDN, the predecessor of APHN, during that period, including at the time the Quad Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations (now CPHNO) was formed.
LaVohn believes the organizational meeting for the Quad Council took place during an APHA meeting in Chicago, around 1988. At the time, she and other PHN leaders from practice and academic saw a need and an opportunity for stronger connections between the various PHN organizations. They believed that a collaboration would enable PHNs to speak with one voice and to achieve strength in numbers, in influencing public health policy issues.
At the time of Quad Council formation, health care reform was a hot topic of debate in public health. Quad Council founding members, including LaVohn, believed the collaboration could help to unify PHNs and work to clarify the role of PHNs in a reformed health care system. The Quad Council member organizations’ representatives took on the challenge to “sell” the Quad Council concept to their respective organizations. LaVohn remembers that selling the concept was relatively easy with ASTDN members, who saw the value in consistent communication with their colleagues from other PHN organizations. They also saw potential for the Quad Council to support and help to advance the individual member organizations.
Many of the early functions of the Quad Council continue today in the CPHNO framework. In the early days of the Quad Council, the organizations deliberated and voted on various issues that came before the council, in order to provide the stamp of Quad Council approval. Leadership of the council rotated among member organizations as it does today, and the council always took a lead role in reviewing the scope and standards document.
LaVohn’s advice to current PHN organizations is to maintain their vision and guiding principles, while adapting to new challenges and opportunities as they emerge. She sees the role of PHN leaders as to challenge people’s thinking and paradigms, which is not always easy. This often takes the form of pushing colleagues and others to think more broadly about their practice, and to influence a broader vision within public health nursing. LaVohn believes that the influencing of a broader vision within public health nursing has never been more important than it is today, as we emerge from the pandemic and enter a new day with new opportunities for PHNs.