I spent half a day today with our town's public health nurse. After that exercise, I can tell you that's a truly awesome and under-appreciated position. I learned quite a bit about what a small-town public health nurse does, and their influence on the community. The job is a cross between direct care, social service, junior filing clerk, senior filing clerk, master statistician, school gate-keeper, public health enforcer, and shoulder to cry on. There's not a lot of supervision, resources, or space. At the same time, there's a lot of discretion, and ability to make a difference within a community.
My respect for public health nurses, especially in small towns like mine has increased greatly today.