Who Is a Public Health Nurse?

A public health nurse is a nursing professional who works in a public position. Their overall focus is on improving the general health of the population within an area or facility. A public health nurse working for a county government may focus on working to improve the health of the county’s population, for instance, while one working in a school will focus on improving the health and well-being of students and faculty within the educational institution.

Potential places of employment range from government agencies to private businesses to surprising locations like correctional facilities, but in all instances, the public health nurse will work to develop and implement plans that work on reducing various health and safety issues within the population they serve.


While the proper training will do a tremendous amount in preparing a person for a career as a public health nurse, there are still some personal characteristics that can help them thrive in the position. Those looking to enter the field will want to possess the following skills.

  • Good Organizational Skills – A public health nurse has a variety of responsibilities and may be working on multiple tasks or issues at once. Being able to organize information and records properly is important.
  • Strong Communication Skills – Public health nurses also work with a variety of other medical professionals, plus they frequently discuss health care practices with patients or the population in general. As such, good communication skills are important.
  • Disciplined – In many instances, a public health nurse will be working on their own to develop solutions to problems. This means that they should be independent and able to work on their own without constant supervision.


Nature of the Work

A public health nurse differs from other nurses in that they don’t simply care for a single patient at a time. Instead, these professionals focus on improving the health of an entire community or population. They work to educate the public about health care issues, develop programs and care that can help improve health, and improve overall health and safety within a population.

Some common tasks that a public health nurse will work on include:

  • Designing and implementing health education programs and campaigns
  • Implementing disease prevention programs
  • Monitoring health and disease trends in a community and identifying problem areas
  • Providing education to the public to improve the health of at-risk groups.

In short, public health nurses focus as much on education and prevention as they do on anything else. Their primary goal is to improve an entire group or population’s overall health and well-being through various means.

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