I have a BSN and want to enter a career as a Public Health Nurse, what degree should I pursue and what are some career opportunities to nurses within the field of public health?
Public health nurses are highly skilled professional nurses who work to improve the overall health the individuals and families that comprise their communities and the systems that affect the communities. These nurses promote and protect the health of populations using knowledge from nursing, social, and public health sciences. Career settings can include county or state departments of health or public health departments, correctional facilities, occupational health facilities, businesses, and schools. They help in designing and implementing plans to alleviate or eliminate health or safety issues in a community and include immunizations, STDs, and obesity. They also assist their communities in preparing for natural disasters and assist in disaster relief efforts. Public health nursing practice has a primary focus on population health and comprises the largest segment of the professional public health workforce.
What Degree Should I Pursue to Enter Careers in the Public Health Field?
Although there are some lower level positions available for nurse in public health, for those who want to advance to the upper level in Public Health nursing, earning a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) or a master’s degree in public health (MPH) is the best choice.
Master of Science In Nursing/Public Health – A public health nursing specialty prepares nurses for careers of leadership to assess health in communities and populations, identify high risk groups, and to partner with communities, consumers, and stakeholders, developing community-based nursing interventions
Master of Science In Nursing/Master of Public Health – Choosing a dual Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Public Health prepares nurses to effectively deliver nursing services in community settings with an advanced mastery of nursing theory and practice, as well as a population-based, multidisciplinary perspective
Public health nurses also may elect to specialize in one or more areas of public health including:
- Environmental health
- Global Health
- Maternal and child health
What are Some of the Areas of Responsibility for a Public Health Nurse?
Some of the responsibilities of a public health nurses include the following:
- Providing essential input to public health programs that monitor, anticipate, and respond to public health problems in population groups, (regardless of which disease or public health threat is identified)
- Define and Evaluate health trends and the specific risk factors of population groups to determine priorities for targeted interventions
- Work with their communities or specific population groups within the community developing public policy and targeted health promotion and disease prevention
- Assess and evaluate health care services insuring people are informed of programs and services available and are assisted in utilizing services that are available
- Providing health education, care management and primary care to individuals and families who in at risk populations and groups
Here are some cites you might want to check out when considering a career as a public health nurse:
- Association of Public Health Nurses
- American Association of College of Nursing
- Council for Education in Public Health
It is a great time for nurses in Public Health, with the Bureau of Labor Statics predicting the growth for jobs in the public health segment of the employment marketplace to increase at a rate of more than 17 percent, higher than most other areas of the economy.