Most nurses will normally care for a single patient at a time, but a public health nurse is responsible for the health of an entire population. By doing work with entire local communities, a public health nurse is able to better educate people about key health issues, boost community safety and health, and generally increase care access.
Some of the most common roles of public health nurses include:
Watch health trends and look for risk factors that are unique to certain types of communities
Look for local priorities for interventions related to health care to give the most benefit to the most people
Be an advocate with government authorities to boost access to health services for communities that are underserved.
Implement and design campaigns for health education and prevention of disease, including screenings and immunizations.
Inform people about health care programs that are available locally.
Provide education and health care service to populations most at risk for health problems.
As a public health nurse, you will deal with the fact that the health of the person is influenced by many things, including genetics, style of life and their surroundings. Rather than waiting for patients to come into the hospital when they are ill, public health nurses often go out into the community to help people to improve their health and to stop diseases from spreading. Public health nurses also may provide health care services directly in the community, such as preventive care, screening services and health education.
YouTube Special Feature
A County Public Health Nurse is more than just your average nurse. Being a public health nurse is a calling. We care for entire communities … one patient at a time. Meet two public health nurses as they work to improve the lives of patients, young and old.
Where Public Health Nurses Work
Many public health nurses work for local, state and federal government agencies. Others work for nonprofit organizations, community health centers and other types of entities that try to boost health at the ground level in the community. Public health nurses may work by themselves or in teams. They also often provide supervision of other health care workers and personnel. Besides working in the community, they also work on planning various public health activities, dealing with budgets and conducting evaluations of new public health programs.
They also may do some travel locally or to other regions to have meetings with stakeholders and community groups, the goal being to bring needed health care services into communities that are underserved.
Job Opportunities & Salary Outlook
Job demand for nurses generally is going up fast, and there is no doubt that this is the case with public health nurses too. This is particularly true in areas that are medically underserved, as well as lower income areas. The need for public health nurses is increasing in part because many government organizations are realizing the benefits of having better preventive services to keep people healthier before they get sick. This can help to reduce many health care costs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median wage for all nurses in 2010 was $64,700.
Indeed.com states that the average salary in this field is $68,000:
Related Public Health Nursing Jobs
- Supervising Public Health Nurse – $80,000
- Public Health Nurse Specialist – $45,000
- Senior Public Health Nurse – $81,000
- Public Health Nurse Supervisor – $79,000
- Public Health Nurse – $66,000
- Public Health Nurse Senior – $61,000
- Nurse Public Health – $36,000
- Public Health Nurse Infusion – $85,000
- Junior Public Health Nurse – $45,000
Requirements to Become a Public Health Nurse
To become a public health nurse, you need to become a registered nurse, or RN, first. You will most likely need a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, but there is still a chance of getting a public health nursing job with an associate’s degree. You should look for chances in college to get nursing work in community health environments, and try to help with public health work where you can. Try to get more training and experience in public health, public policy, and health administration.
After you graduate, you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam before you can enter nursing practice.