Choosing to enter the health care field is one of the smartest career paths out there today. Few other fields can offer the same kind of excellent salary, solid job stability, career growth, and personal benefits that a job in health care can. There are numerous career paths within the field, of course, and one that is worth taking a look at is that of the public health nurse.
A career as a public health nurse is one of the most popular and fastest growing options in the field, filled with rewards both professional and personal. If you’re looking for an excellent way to help others and earn great money in the process, keep reading to learn more about this career choice.
What Is a Public Health Nurse?
A public health nurse is a nursing professional who works in a public position. Their overall focus is on improving the general health of the population within an area or facility. A public health nurse working for a county government may focus on working to improve the health of the county’s population, for instance, while one working in a school will focus on improving the health and well-being of students and faculty within the educational institution.
Potential places of employment range from government agencies to private businesses to surprising locations like correctional facilities, but in all instances the public health nurse will work to develop and implement plans that work on reducing various health and safety issues within the population they serve.
While the proper training will do a tremendous amount in preparing a person for a career as a public health nurse, there are still some personal characteristics that can help them thrive in the position. Those looking to enter the field will want to possess the following skills.
- Good Organizational Skills – A public health nurse has a variety of responsibilities and may be working on multiple tasks or issues at once. Being able to organize information and records properly is important.
- Strong Communication Skills – Public health nurses also work with a variety of other medical professionals, plus they frequently discuss health care practices with patients or the population in general. As such, good communication skills are important.
- Disciplined – In many instances, a public health nurse will be working on their own to develop solutions to problems. This means that they should be independent and able to work on their own without constant supervision.
Nature of the Work
A public health nurse differs from other nurses in that they don’t simply care for a single patient at a time. Instead, these professionals focus on improving the health of an entire community or population. They work to educate the public about health care issues, develop programs and care that can help improve health, and improve overall health and safety within a population.
Some common tasks that a public health nurse will work on include:
- Designing and implementing health education programs and campaigns
- Implementing disease prevention programs
- Monitoring health and disease trends in a community and identifying problem areas
- Providing education to the public to improve the health of at risk groups.
In short, public health nurses focus as much on education and prevention as they do on anything else. Their primary goal is to improve an entire group or population’s overall health and well-being through various means.
Education and Training
In order to become a public health nurse, earning a nursing diploma is required. While some states only require an Associate of Nursing, others will prefer to hire those with a Bachelor’s degree in the field. After earning this degree, completing the NCLEX-RN licensure exam will be required.
Next, you’ll need to work for at least 500 hours in a public health position as a registered nurse in order to obtain the needed experience. Following this, completion of a Public Health Nursing Certification Exam is the final step towards becoming a public health nurse.
These professionals earn an average of between $51,000 and $55,000 per year according to Explore Health Careers. The job growth is expected to expand over the future, with more public health nurses needed each year for the foreseeable future. Those looking for an excellent, rewarding career will want to consider what this position has to offer them