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Community and Public Health Nurse

Community and Public Health Nursing Career and Training Profile
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Public Health Nurse
Video : Interview with a Public Health Nurse

Career Overview
Public health nurses specialize in treating and preventing ailments. Many work for local clinics and community health centers. They also spend a great amount of time traveling and educating individuals on health care issues. Many also travel to make home visits to seniors who are unable to leave their homes to go to doctor's appointments or to visit new mothers to ensure that their newborn babies are developing properly. Being a public health nurse will allow you to use a variety of skills in a variety of different settings.

While many public health nurses will work in settings to treat ailments and prevent disease and complications, the focus is on the population as a whole. Interaction may include epidemiology, environmental health, wellness and health promotion, evaluation of population-focused programs, or health maintenance. Public health nurses can serve on councils and committees to assist is research, establishing and furthering public health programs to improve awareness, health, and lifestyles of individuals in their community.

Public health nurses work more conventional hours than hospital nurses. They can also enjoy travel opportunities and more flexible schedules.

Public Health Nurse Employment Opportunities
For a registered nurse looking for adventure and new ways to impact health, public health nursing can offer an attractive, stimulating career. PHNs work at the federal, state and local level, creating conditions to make people healthy. They work in a variety of settings from community-based preventive health services in urban areas, to remote Alaskan villages improving the health of Native Americans. Internationally, public health nurses may be part of a World Health Organization team identifying health problems and finding solutions. Or, they may be teaching families how to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and working to improve sanitary conditions in small villages.
>> Click to see Community/Public Health Nurse Career Settings and Titles.

Below are more common Public Health Nurse work settings:

  • Local government and health departments
  • Hospitals
  • Health and community organizations
  • Schools
  • Local clinics and community health centers

Qualifications for Public Health Nurse
RNs who are interested in becoming a PHN, must have basic nursing education at the baccalaureate level. To advance in the field of public health, a master's degree in public health, public health nursing, or community health is needed. To participate in research, teach at the university level, and to qualify for research grants in public health, a doctorate in public health or a related field is necessary. There are also several subspecialties of public health such as epidemiology and community health planning that provide opportunities to advance in specific areas. PHNs can also sit for the Advanced Public Health Nurse (APHN-BC) certification exam provided by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Public Health Nurse Career Outlook
The US BLS includes public health nurses in the statistics it provides for registered nurses. It states that employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons.Demand for community and public health nurses is high and should remain strong. The need for public health nurses is kept high by factors such as a growing senior population, more uninsured and underinsured patients, and continuing efforts at disease prevention.

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