How to Become a Public Health Nurse
What Does a Public Health Nurse Do?
Steps to Become a Public Health Nurse
Step 1. Attend an accredited nursing program
Step 2. Study and pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Step 3. Gain experience in nursing
Step 4. Obtain certification as a certified public health nurse
Step 5. Get continuing education and training
Where Do Public Health Nurses Work?
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Public Health Specialist vs. Public Health Nurse
FAQs on Public Health Nurses
Public health nursing is commonly defined as a method to promote and protect community health using knowledge from nursing, social and public health sciences. Public health nursing focuses on the overall health of a community, promoting health and preventing disease and disability.
Public health nurses are considered community advocates, educators and providers of critical public health services. They perform a vital role, focusing more on long-term healthcare and safety, especially among the most vulnerable in society. Public health nurses also are key in helping a community prepare for and recover from health incidents, such as natural disasters and disease outbreaks.
Public health nurses typically have either an Associate Degree of Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. These degrees should be obtained from a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Nursing in general is a growth field because of the constant need for healthcare among the populace. The number of registered nursing jobs is expected to grow by 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all jobs, according to government statistics. Registered nurses earn an average of $73,300 a year.
Although both have public health in mind, the qualifications for nurses and specialists is different. Nurses must have medical knowledge and clinical experience to be certified, which is not required of most public health jobs, such as environmental health specialists and epidemiologists. Public health professionals focus on community health, but public health nurses still must care for patients, administer medicine and work with physicians.