Community health nurses are charged with looking after the health of entire populations. They are often involved in policy development, coming up with strategies that will enhance the health and safety of the people within the community they serve. As such, although they will work directly with people who have a variety of ailments, their main role is in health prevention. In most cases, community health or public health nurses work in disadvantaged communities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses is going up and will continue to do so. The current rate of growth estimate is 22%, which is well above the national average. Furthermore, salary rate of growth predictions stand at 19%, again above the national average. This is because we are dealing with an aging population, who have increasingly more complex health needs. As such, becoming a community health nurse is a fantastic career choice if you are the right person for it. But what are some of the careers and jobs you could choose? Let’s take a look at the top 10 choices out there.
#1 – Government Departments
One place where many public health nurses may find employment is with their state’s department of health. Some of the things they will be involved with include child immunization programs, counseling, health promotion and mental health. Salaries vary depending on the geographical location of the state, as there are great differences between them. Generally speaking, applicants would need to hold at least a BSN, although MSN may be preferred. Furthermore, they must be a registered nurse (RN).
#2 – Armed Forces
The military is also constantly on the lookout for properly qualified community health nurses. Their role would be to monitor the spread of diseases, raise good health awareness and look out for hazards. Some will work on army bases in the country, others will be deployed abroad. These foreign deployments are particularly important in terms of lowering the risk of spreading infectious diseases. Salaries vary depending on the level of education. One particularly interesting fact is that members of the armed forces generally receive discounts on tuition for further education, which means it is a fantastic opportunity for those who want to achieve a master’s or a doctorate degree.
#3 – Maternal Clinics
Many public health nurses focus specifically on working with new mothers and their infants. Some of their roles will include doing pregnancy tests, running maternity clinics, coordinating care, providing early intervention for at-risk children, running immunization programs, supporting teen mothers and promoting breastfeeding. A large part of their role will focus on health education and referrals.
#4 – Communicable Diseases
Community health nurses who are involved with work on communicable diseases search for cases, do outreach work, conduct surveillance, and promote better health practices to combat the spread of diseases. They also provide support to families who are high risk or who are struggling with compliance.
#5 – School Health
A lot of public health nurses choose to work within schools. Their role here is to teach children on maintaining their personal health, including hygiene. They also provide vaccinations and monitor children to ensure they are not suffering from any illnesses. Furthermore, they liaise closely with Child Protection Units in dealing with at-risk children.
#6 – Tuberculosis Care
Tuberculosis is a rare, but very deadly disease. Community nurses who work in this field will work directly with those people who have been affected by it. They will coordinate the care they require and liaise with all other agencies that are involved. A strong focus is placed on preventing the spread of this disease.
#7 – Voluntary Programs
It is also not uncommon for a public health nurse to become involved in voluntary programs. Some good examples include the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. These nurses will be sent to areas where disasters have taken place and the health of the populations are at risk.
#8 – Outbreak Prevention
A very varied career option for a public health nurse is to work on outbreak prevention. Some of these nurses will be employed by the CDC, others will work directly with other disease prevention organizations. A strong focus will be placed on regular outbreaks, such as the winter NORO virus or the summer West Nile virus. Additionally, they will be deployed when there are other outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as the Ebola virus.
#9 – Health Education
Some public health nurses work solely in health education. This means they do not deal directly with people who have direct health needs. Instead, they work at fairs and other public seminars, providing people with information and guidance on health issues they may encounter and how to prevent them.
#10 – Refugee Care
A final career that must be noted in the top 10 is working with refugees. These people often have particular health needs due to the conditions in their country of origin, or the conditions they experienced during their journey out of their country. These people also often have limited knowledge on how to prevent the spread of diseases and have never been given the tools to ensure they can maintain their own health and hygiene.