Public health nurses work in diverse parts of public health. Some work in education, assessment, and evaluation of public health, prevention, activism, or advocacy. Nurses in this field care for whole populations of patients compared to taking care of individual patients. This post provides an overview of what a public health nurse is, how to become one, and what nurses in public health do.
Public health nursing is considered to be a specialty within public health and nursing. These nurses work on different aspects of nursing and public health depending on the need. Nurses in this specialty primarily focus on health screenings and prevention and administering resources that help prevent illnesses and diseases. They are focused on administering care to communities and creating strategies to educate them.
The first step to becoming a public health nurse is to obtain an RN license. States require nurses to graduate from an approved nursing program with an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Nurses must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam and complete all requirements to become a nurse in the state. This is usually the only requirement to be a public health nurse in many states. There is no specific certification to become a general public health nurse.
Nurses who have at least five years of experience in public health can take the Certification in Public Health (CPE). Advanced practice options are also available. Those who are interested in obtaining their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can specialize in public health and become an advanced public health nurse (APHN-BC).
Public health nurses can work in different agencies in a city or county health department. They generally work with immigrants and the underserved. They can also work in research.
Examples of work public health nurses do include putting on well-baby clinics for pregnant women, babies, and children, working with high-risk populations like those struggling with addiction and sex workers, educating patients on health, and nutrition, or planning and implementing disaster services. In addition, public health nurses often work with families to reduce incidents of abuse, violence, and conflicts within the family unit.
Public health nurses and employers looking to hire them can turn to NexNurse. NexNurse connects nurses and employers together from across the country to fill available jobs. Create your profile on NexNurse today!