How To Become A Public Health RN Overview

by NurseJournal Staff
• 2 min read
Public health RN nurses work within a particular community to teach people about how to stay safe and healthy. Their focus is strongly on health prevention. Additionally, they look at health and safety concerns that are present in a community and work on prioritizing those that should be addressed first. They then create safety plans and implement these to better serve the people of the area they are focusing on. The role is incredibly varied and complex and includes such things as health care service administration, being a health care advocate and more. It is a perfect role for people who love to help others and have a compassionate nature, as well as truly enjoying science.

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Educational Pathways

In order to become a public health RN nurse, aspirants must first become a registered nurse (RN). Many continue to study, eventually reaching a doctorate degree. Becoming an RN means taking part in an accredited nursing program, which leads to a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). They then have to pass the required licensing exam in order to be come RNs. On completion, they can study towards a master’s degree (BSN to MSN, for instance), and then eventually do their doctorate degree.
The BSN courses will look at physical, health and behavioral sciences. Students will need to take part in hands-on clinical experiences. Good universities and colleges will support their students in finding these placements, based on their geographical location (many universities now offer the theoretical curriculum online) and their areas of interest. It is also possible for existing BSN holders to take part in a specialty certification program or an advanced degree program. Some of the fields they could look into include: – Nursing Associate Degree – BSN – MSN – Ph.D. Public health nursing programs are also often referred to as community health nursing programs. It is very important, particularly for students who decide to study online, to ensure their program is fully accredited. Only with accredited programs will they be able to take the licensure exam to become an RN. Furthermore, programs must be accredited in order for them to count towards continuous professional education. If a student wishes to move on to higher levels of education, such as the MSN or the Ph.D., their initial education pathway also has to have been accredited. There are a number of different accreditation bodies in the field of nursing, but the two main ones are the HLC and the CCNE. However, other accrediting bodies can be equally valid. You must therefore check with your own state board of nursing whether they accept the accreditation of the university of your choice.

Career Outlook

In most cases, those who achieve a public health RN degree will start to work for a state or federal government unit. It is also possible for them to work in educational and/or business settings. It is important to get to know the profession before those who are aspiring for this kind of job can decide whether this is a specialization for them. There are a lot of information available in terms of what a career as an RN looks like. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the career prospects for registered nurses are very interesting. A predicted growth of 26% is expected between now and 2020, which is well above the national average. The reasons for this include an aging population and an increased need for at home care, which is why public health nurses will be in such high demand. In 2012, there were 2 million RNs in the country who were employed at the time, and this figure is expected to grow exponentially. The salary expectations for RNs is between $54,180 and $80,190. The main factors contributing to these differences include specialization, industry and geographical location.


In order to become a public health RN nurse, students must meet certain requirements. The exact requirements will vary depending on the school of choice, but there are a number of things seen almost across the board. These include:
  • Certification requirements – In order to become a public health RN nurse, candidates must already hold an RN degree and then they will specialize in public or community health.
  • Admission requirements – Most universities will require their students to have a good average GPA and will require a personal statement and letters of recommendation. For those who speak English as a second language, proof of proficiency must also be provided.
  • License requirements – Students must take part in accredited education in order to sit for their license. The license is known as the NCLEX-RN.
  • Continuous education requirements – In order to retain their license, students must be able to demonstrate they have taken part in continuous professional education. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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