Becoming a Public Health Nurse

Public Health Nurses are different from the Nurses, who focus on one patient at a time. Rather, they care for the entire population and work with all communities. They are entrusted with the task of educating people about health issues, improving community health and safety standards. They not only impart health and safety education, but also assess and prioritize health and safety concerns within communities. They create a conducive environment and implement healthcare and safety plans.

Apart from the above duties, they may have to administer healthcare services and advocate healthcare improvements with their experience and expertise.

Key Responsibilities:

Identify risk factors related to health and monitor the trends
Set local health priorities to provide timely assistance to the people
Identify deprived communities and groups that do not have access to healthcare and ensure help
Spread awareness about available healthcare programs
Encourage campaigns on disease prevention activities, including immunization
Set up free health camps

Working Conditions:

The Public Health Nurses often work for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, community health centers, medical facilities etc. They work alone or in a team, but for the communities. They may travel locally or across the state whenever needed. Good communication skills and proficiency in other languages are added advantage for aspiring Public Health Nurses.

Education Requirements:

1. Earn an Associate Degree: The aspiring Public Health Nurses must have a Registered Nurse (RN) license before applying in a Public Health Nursing (PHN) certificate program. The associate degree programs are the first step of their career before the move further. You can then go for Bachelor’s degree and earn the license as RN.

2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) helps the aspiring Public Health Nurses to become a Registered Nurse (RN). This is a four-year degree program, which included classroom as well as clinical settings experience. Common coursework may comprise of Anatomy, Health Assessment, Physiology, Patient Care and other Nursing related subjects.

3, Get a Public Health Nursing Certificate: All RNs can apply for the Public Health Nursing (PHN) certification programs. The PHN certificate programs can be completed in 1-2 semesters. The courses for the certificate program may include: Nursing Assessment, Community Nursing, Family Planning, Health Teaching etc.

Salary & Job Outlook:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), has confirmed that Public Health Nurse profession will grow faster than the national average. The projected growth rate has been pegged at 19% during the period of 2012-22. The average salary of these professionals was $65,470 as of May, 2012.