the nursing specialty of community health nursing is a blend of general nursing practice and public health. it is primarily concerned with the promotion and preservation of the health of the public, and improvement of their physical and social environment.community health nurses play a role in improving overall public health. they become familiar with the communities that they serve, identify the main health problems prevalent in that community, and try to educate people so that they can prevent the most widely encountered diseases or health problems.
community health nurses are often involved in field work too, and do not just stay within hospitals or clinics. some are involved in serving the underprivileged groups of the society that do not have access to quality healthcare facilities. as a first step to becoming a community health nurse, there are typically two nursing degrees you could decide to earn:
associate of science in nursing (asn): this is usually a two year program which will provide you with basic clinical knowledge and required skills for practicing as a nurse.
bachelor of science in nursing (bsn): this degree program is typically four years long. it also focuses on some advanced theories and leadership curriculum.
when choosing a program, you should take into account factors like accreditation of the program and approval by the respective state board of nursing. many institutes offer online programs which are popular among students who are working full-time and would like flexibility in their study schedule. to start practicing as a professional nurse, you will first have to become a registered nurse (rn). this involves passing the national council licensure examination (nclex) after completing your degree. you might be required to take a different exam for each state.
in order to attain specialized knowledge, it may be a good idea to get enrolled in community health nursing programs that offer certificates, and these may be earned at various community and vocational colleges. as a pre-requisite to taking up these programs, you will usually be required to hold a bachelor level degree and a valid nursing license. some may ask for a minimum level of professional nursing experience too. many institutes also offer an advanced level degree like a master's degree in nursing with a specialization in community health service. this type of degree is beneficial for those who are interested in working in a leadership capacity in the field of public or community health nursing. as far as the program curriculum is concerned, you could expect to find courses like:
community health systems for equity
intro to epidemiology
intro to health systems and public health
introduction to biomedical and health informatics
according to the us bureau of labor statistics (bls), in may 2012, the average hourly and annual salary for registered nurses was $31.48 and $65,470 respectively. the job outlook seems to be good with an estimated growth rate of 19% from 2012 to 2022. potential workplaces for community health nurses include community agencies, non-profit organizations, or government departments.