For some nurses, practicing preventative care for thousands of people in underserved communities is the nursing career choice that brings them the most satisfaction. Public health nurses focus on this important area through advocacy, policy development, and the implementation of preventative healthcare services.
Addressing social justice is a key element of the field. Public health nurses help achieve health equity by developing a thorough knowledge of public health theory and applying it to the communities they serve.
Houston Baptist University offers an RN to BSN program that allows aspiring public nurses to take a significant step toward achieving their career goals. A Master of Science in Nursing is also considered key to earning the best jobs in the field.
Public Health Nurse Job Duties
No matter where they work, public health nurses focus on improving health outcomes among all populations. Combining clinical skills with an ecological viewpoint, public health nurses develop health policies and programs based on the complex mix of factors that impact community health. These include cultural, environmental, historical, physical, and social factors.
Some of the key job duties for public health nurses include the following.
Assessing Population Health
Public health nurses take a comprehensive approach to assessing a community’s current health and assets, identifying areas of need. They analyze those needs, determining which ones to prioritize based on the potential impact to the community.
Public Health Advocacy
Public health nurses advocate for the communities they serve with local, state, and federal officials. The goal is to get the community’s most pressing healthcare needs met and to improve access to health services.
Developing Health Programs
Public health nurses develop programs that focus on improving health outcomes for all populations in the community. With an emphasis on preventative health, public health nurses create programs that impact the health of individuals, families, communities, and health systems.
Public health nurses typically work at non-profit organizations, hospital community outreach programs, or government agencies. Public health nurse salaries vary depending on location. The annual average salary reached $63,335 in 2021, according to Salary.com
How To Become a Public Health Nurse
Is public health nurse your nursing path of choice? Follow these steps to start your career.
- Earn a BSN. The HBU RN to BSN program produces graduates ready to take on leadership roles in the nursing field.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN. The NCLEX-RN exam is required to become a licensed nurse.
- Gain experience. Before moving into public health, nurses typically get at least two years of experience working in healthcare. The experience provides invaluable insight into how the system works.
- Earn a master’s degree. While not seen as a requirement, earning a master’s degree prepares graduates for the top jobs in public health.
- Become certified. Public health nurses become eligible to work in the field by passing a certification exam offered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE). Anyone with a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience, or a master’s degree and three years of experience, can apply for the certification. Also, those who graduate from a school accredited by the NBPHE can apply (HBU is not accredited by the organization, but HBU graduates can apply after earning the required years of experience).
The public health nurse profession gives nurses the opportunity to work in a field where they can significantly impact the delivery of healthcare services to those who need them the most. Few jobs have a higher level of satisfaction or provide more support to building stronger communities.