What Does a Public Health Nurse Do?

There are a variety of different specialties for registered nurses, but if you're interested in serving the community, you may consider a career in public health nursing. As a public health nurse, you'll provide education and healthcare to communities in a variety of settings. Schools offering Nursing & Public Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

Public health nurses are registered nurses who work to improve community health. In this field, you may help educate the public about diseases or illnesses, as well as organize efforts to provide healthcare to a community or create a campaign to spread the word about an epidemic. The main goal of your services is to ensure the people within your community are educated about how to get and stay healthy. You may serve as the main contact when there is an outbreak of a disease or an issue, such as a food-borne illness.

Important Facts About Public Health Nurses

Median Salary (2014) $66,640 ('for all registered nurses')
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 16% growth
Key Skills Time management, empathy, attention to detail, physical and mental endurance, critical thinking, problem solving, clear oral and written communication
Similar Occupations Physicians assistants; EMTs; paramedics; licensed vocational nurses; licensed practical nurses; social workers; nurse anesthetists; nurse midwives; nurse practitioners;

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties and Responsibilities

Your job duties may include creating and giving presentations about a health-related topic, conducting assessments of the general health within your community, reaching out to local healthcare providers and facilities for their cooperation with community health events, and/or creating a plan for helping members of the community gain access to healthcare. You may conduct evaluations of your efforts and analyze your findings to determine the next steps to take.

Your job won't usually include seeing individual patients. Most of your work will be done with large groups of people and focus more on education than actual medical care. However, you may carry out nursing duties in a community clinic, if your help is needed.

Most of your efforts will be spent trying to get healthcare legislation passed in your community, monitoring health risks, developing intervention programs, serving as an advocate for your community, designing healthcare services, and making sure the public is aware of the services available.

Work Environment

Typically, a registered nurse works in a medical facility, but as a public health nurse, your normal work environment may not be tied to one physical location. You may work out in the community or local hospitals, as well as with human services or health departments and non-profit groups. You may be required to travel often and attend meetings at your state capital or local government agencies. You may even work at private homes in your community.

Requirements

To become a public health nurse, you must hold a nursing license. Each state regulates nursing licenses, but generally you need to completed a nursing program and pass an exam to become licensed.

After becoming licensed, you may consider getting a degree in public health nursing, which is primarily offered at the master's level. A master's program in public health nursing will help educate you on the topics important to this line of work, such as grant writing, healthcare systems, health policy, public health principles, and nursing administration.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Capella University

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    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
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  • Purdue University Global

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  • Independence University

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    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • The George Washington University

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    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master

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  • Maryville University

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  • Grand Canyon University

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  • Fortis College

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

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  • Keiser University

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    Popular programs at Keiser University:

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  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

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