Public Health Nurse

What Is the Function of a Public Health Nurse?

The American Public Health Association defines public health nursing as “…the profession of promoting and safeguarding population health via the use of information from the nursing, social, and public health sciences.” Rather of being stationed in a hospital or clinic, public health nurses visit patients in their homes. This enables individuals to make informed decisions about their environment, available resources, and possible health care requirements.

Becoming a Nurse in Public Health

Because public health nursing is focused on specific patient populations, persons interested in this profession should be able to view the “big picture” in terms of community health concerns. The assessment does not focus exclusively on one patient; it considers the patient, the family, the home and work environment, and any other element that may have an effect on the health of community members. Nurses must possess superior assessment abilities, the ability to work autonomously, a desire to lead and serve as a role model, and an abundance of patience.

Additionally, a significant number of public health nurses interact with impoverished families, which can be emotionally taxing. Public health nurses should be emotionally stable and have a strong support system.

What Education Do Public Health Nurses Need?

Those interested in public health nursing as a specialty should first earn a nursing degree from a two- or four-year university. It is necessary to hold an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). BSN degrees, on the other hand, are suggested for entry-level public health nursing positions.

To be eligible for licensing after completing an accredited nursing program, graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN.

Nurses who earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) can develop their careers in public health nursing by taking on leadership responsibilities and conducting research. For instance, researchers can discover health and illness trends, patterns, and epidemics in order to determine how to enhance a community’s health.

Is it necessary to obtain any certifications or credentials?

Occasionally, certification in a specific area of public health nursing is necessary. Certain BSN nursing programs include public health nursing courses as part of their curriculum. Graduates may next apply to the state nursing board for certification. Various educational institutions can complete the needed curricula for nursing programs that do not have a public health focus. Educational requirements vary according to the applicant’s academic background. The fundamental required courses should include the following:

  • Nursing in community health
  • Care centered on the family
  • Nursing care that is multicultural
  • Nursing evaluation
  • Nurses interested in obtaining certification in public health should contact their state’s Board of Nursing to verify prerequisites.

At one point, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) issued a credential for Advanced Public Health Nurse-Board Certified (APHN-BC). This accreditation, however, is now accessible for renewal only. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has began offering a National Healthcare Disaster Certification (NHDP-BC) that may interest public health nurses.

What Types of Jobs Do Public Health Nurses Have?

Because public health nurses provide a wide range of services, they can operate in a variety of contexts. Institutions may include the following:

  • Health departments in counties
  • Public health departments in cities
  • Federally chartered health organizations
  • Private providers of public health services
  • Mobile health care units

What Is the Role of a Public Health Nurse?

Public health nurses provide a range of services, depending on their location. Nurses in public health, in particular:

  • Conduct screening testing on subpopulations
  • Immunize adults and children
  • Provide nutrition education to participants in a variety of programs, including WIC (Women, Infants, and Children).
  • Collect data and analyze illness outbreaks for trends/patterns
  • Educate and treat those who are infected with infectious diseases, which includes sexually transmitted infections.
  • Educate high-risk populations about healthy behavior and illness prevention (drug users, prostitutes, etc.)
  • Assist patients and families with their psychological health needs, which may include effective communication, intimate partner violence, and abuse.
  • Respond to and carry out interventions in the aftermath of natural catastrophes or community-wide crises.
  • Dispense pharmaceuticals

What Are the Functions and Responsibilities of a Public Health Nurse?

Public health nurses play a critical role in the field of health care. Many patients, particularly those living in underserved, rural, or disadvantaged neighborhoods, do not seek or cannot afford health treatment. Public health nurses assist patients and families in need by educating and treating them. Among the possible roles are the following:

  • Assessing a population’s psychological, mental health, physical, and dietary needs
  • Educating the public on the benefits of preventive health and health screening
  • Recognize and intervene in situations involving abuse or violence
  • Motivating community members to embrace healthy practices and lifestyles
  • Serving as a role model for others in the community
  • Taking action and educating the public in the event of infectious disease outbreaks
  • Making use of and teaching patients about community resources
  • Providing leadership within a community, particularly during times of crisis

Salary and Employment Opportunities for Public Health Nurses

While there is no official statistics on the employment forecast for public health nurses in particular, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that registered nursing as a whole is predicted to rise by 16% by 2024. Additionally, health educators and community health workers in general are predicted to have a 13% increase in employment opportunities by 2024. This is encouraging news for nurses interested in public health nursing.

salary.guide reports that the average yearly compensation for a public health nurse is $56,111. This value varies according to the degrees/certificates possessed and the city/state in which the employee works.