Show Navigation

Resource Library

Public health leadership development in Canada

This report investigates leadership development issues and opportunities for PH nurses wanting to work for greater health equity through the social determinants of health. It is based on a literature scan, a survey of community health nurses in leadership positions, and Community Health Nurses of Canada (CHNC) workshop participation. The report is a joint project of the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health and the CHNC, and the research was supported by Dr. Ardene Robinson Vollman.

The report offers innovative examples of leadership development, with references. It states that roles and scope of practice must be clarified as a starting point for developing the leadership potential of PH nurses at the front line. The literature identifies political and social politicization (understanding of big P and little p politics), and a valuing of knowledge gained through practice, as a key elements of leadership training for health equity work. 

Factors that impact effective public health nursing leadership include:

  • front-line management support;
  • an organizational culture that values health equity and social justice, and frontline experience;
  • intersectoral/interprofessional relationships (vertical networks);
  • access to data; and
  • support for innovation and creativity.

The research included a print survey of 46 nurses on the CHNC Board and standing committees, and a summary of contribution to a 2013 CHNC workshop, both of which identified leadership characteristics/qualities, actions, and skills.

The report calls for PH leadership frameworks that imbed transformational, political, trans-organizational and team-building competencies. Other recommendations call for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for PH nursing leadership.

The report contains a summary of all the literature reviewed.

Use this resource to

  • Investigate research focused on PH nursing leadership for health equity
  • Identify leadership competencies for health equity
  • Investigate mechanisms and curriculums developed to build leadership skills and attitudes among PH nurses


Community Health Nurses of Canada & National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (2013). Public health leadership development in Canada.

Related resources

Tags: Competencies & organizational standards , Intersectoral action, National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, Link

Sign up for our E-News