Public Health Nurse

Nurses typically assist patients on an individual basis, but public health nurses specialize in health problems affecting the public. Public health nurses organize public health campaigns, teach classes, increase accessibility to healthcare services, and work with public officials to improve public health. The following are typical duties of public health nurses:
  • Track health trends and recognize potential public health problems
  • Develop public health goals
  • Lobby elected representatives at all levels to address serious public health problems
  • Organize disease prevention campaigns, public health programs, and health screenings for people living in poverty
  • Teach people how to access public healthcare services
  • Teach uneducated or poor individuals how to improve their health and prevent major health problems
Public health nurses address health problems affected by lifestyle, genetics, and other factors. They spend a considerable amount of time teaching preventative healthcare to reduce healthcare costs and improve life expectancy. Public health nurses frequently administer screenings and provide preventive treatments to individuals who cannot afford medical care.

Public health nurses typically spend most their time focusing on education. They rely on knowledge acquired from nursing experience to teach people how to care for themselves. During classes or public presentations, public health nurses discuss nutrition, early disease detection, injury and disease prevention, and other factors contributing to disease, injury, and early death. They work tirelessly to improve the accessibility of health information, so individuals can make educated decisions regarding their health.

Public health nurses administer preventative and other medical services in rural and poverty stricken areas, including immunizations, pre-natal care, AIDS screenings, and other services. These specialists must also have the ability to recognize emerging health trends and potential epidemics.

Working Conditions
Public health nurses are employed by government departments, non-profit organizations, schools, medical clinics, and community health facilities that offer healthcare services to underprivileged populations. They frequently work in teams with other specialists and oversee other healthcare workers. In addition to community work, public health nurses organize public health awareness campaigns, oversee department budgets, and assess whether public health programs are working as planned.

Academic Requirements
Public health nurses work tirelessly to enhance community health and make healthcare accessible for all people. They should have the ability to work in teams, speak in public, listen effectively, and recognize cultural and ethnic differences. They typically conduct their work with limited resources, so they must be able to recognize the best types of programs to allocate public funds for. Public health nurse careers can be stressful and demanding, so these specialists must manage stress effectively.

Aspiring public health nurses should acquire experience by volunteering with non-profit organizations, community organizations, hospices, and other healthcare or public health organizations. Many volunteer opportunities are available with organizations that specialize in public health problems.

All public health nurses are required to be licensed as registered nurses. Most public health nurses hold at least a bachelor’s degree, but some organizations hire individuals holding associate’s degrees.

Those aspiring to this profession who are still in college should volunteer with community organizations, student groups, or any other organization specializing in public health. It’s also recommended to take classes in public policy and health administration, in addition to anatomy, physiology, and other science courses.

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