Public Health Nursing

Becoming a part of the public health system is one of the most respectable ways to serve the nation. Public health nurses are registered nurses who are multifaceted and highly trained to provide medical care. In addition, they are also qualified to spread awareness on various health issues at the national as well as global levels. A public health nurse may work as an educator, liaison, consultant, case manager, or clinician. The occupation has a promising professional outlook as well; the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported registered nurses earned in excess of $64,000 per year (median salary) in 2010. The Bureau also predicts a 26 percent job growth for registered nurses, which is faster than the average for all other professions.

What Do Public Health Nurses Do?
As mentioned earlier, public health nurses work in different settings. Clinical public health nurses may choose to serve a particular group. For example, they may work with homeless people. In addition to providing the homeless with medical care, they may also provide them with information on various healthcare issues particularly of interest to them. They may also make referrals and manage case loads. But in order to be better public health nurses, they need to be aware of the needs of the homeless. In addition to serving the homeless, nurses who decide to serve the families of migrant farm workers must be bilingual and culturally competent to know and meet the needs of the population served.

How To Become A Public Health Nurse?
As mentioned earlier, public health nurses are registered nurses. Registered nurses hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which is an undergraduate degree offered at four year colleges and universities. A BSN degree may expose a future public health nurse to coursework in public and community health nursing. Working nurses who intend to enter public health nursing may like to enroll in a Master's in Public Health degree. Some nursing schools may offer the degree online, a great opportunity for those nurses who do not have the time to attend a traditional on-campus nursing school. The flexible nature of online degree programs helps students earn their degrees at a pace and schedule that they are comfortable with.

In addition to academic qualifications, practicing nurses are also licensed. Registered nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Some states may require that registered nurses obtain an additional certificate to qualify as public health nurses. Nurses with a BSN degree as well as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree may qualify for a public health nurse certification. The American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA), offers a public health nurse certification.

Should You Become A Public Health Nurse?
Like other nurses, public health nurses with the following qualities and attributes may excel in their profession ahead of others:

  • Compassion
  • Patience
  • Speaking skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Emotional stability
  • Detail oriented
  • Critical-thinking skills

Nursing is a tough profession where those with abovementioned qualities excel and are more likely to provide better medical care to patients and the communities they serve.

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