What is Public Health Nursing
Unlike their colleagues who work in clinical setting such as hospitals, clinics, and maternity centers a public health nurse is deeply involved with the community or wider population rather than an individual. They deploy their understanding of health and clinical issues to help communities and families improve overall health and well-being.
Building a career in public health nursing is an excellent idea because it not only provides a decent means of earning a living, it places one in a position to promote health, prevent disease and provide health services to segments of the population that would otherwise not be able to afford such services.
Public health nurses work in local health departments, federal health agencies, international development agencies, non-governmental organizations, schools, community clinics and emergency services.
Public Health Nurse Requirements
To become a public health nurse, you must first train as a registered nurse (RN) This is the first requirement for pursuing a career in public health nursing.. You’ll likely need to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing at an accredited four-year college or institution , although some states and communities employ public health nurses with associate’s degrees. The complete list of public health nurse requirements are listed below:
STEP 1: Obtain A Nursing Degree
The first step towards a fulfilling career in public health nursing is to earn a degree in nursing which creates a pathway for you to obtain a nursing practice license.
General Requirements for Admission into Nursing School
There are varying criteria for admission into a nursing school, each school has its own set of criteria a student has to meet in order to be admitted. However, the general requirements for admission into the Bachelor of Science degree programs in nursing and Nursing schools are:
Associate or Bachelor’s degree, completion and satisfactory grades in general education foundation courses which is usually a grade of “C” or higher.
Social & Behavioral Science
Some schools may require addition qualifications. See Top 5 Public Health Nursing Schools
In most countries of the world, admission into Nursing schools and colleges are based on secondary or high school O-level qualifications which typically includes credits or distinction in the following subjects
Credits in courses or subject relevant to the above listed subjects are usually accepted in lieu.
STEP 2: Specialization: How to become a Public health Nurse
There are several pathways to becoming a public health nurse. Upon completion of basic degree in nursing, a registered nurse can choose to specialize in public health nursing by
OPTION A: Enrolling in a Public health Nursing Master’s Degree – several schools offer this specialization. This public health nurse training program equips the nurse with needed skills, experience, and knowledge in the field of public health nursing. Requirements include a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, Nursing license, or The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification.
OPTION B: Enrolling in a Master of Public health degree Program
This is also another option for nurses intending to specialize in public health nursing. A master of public health degree for nurses is a good public health nurse training pathway that will provide you with the needed public health background to complement their training in nursing and prepare them for a career in public health Nursing.
OPTION C: ANCC PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
The third option available to nurses intending to specialize in public health nursing is the public health nurse certification program . This involves enrollment into the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification program or its equivalent in other countries . The ANCC is one of the major public health nurse education and certification bodies. This require a registered nurse to take and pass a computer based test (CBT)
OPTION D: Undertake Professional Courses
Another option available for nurses intending to specialize in public health nursing is professional courses (especially credit bearing courses) offered by universities and other specialized training centers.
STEP 3: Join professional Associations and Institutions
Professional association or institutions are not just platforms for earning required CME points they are also a good platform for public health nurse education and links to public health nurse certification programs. They provide the opportunity to network and learn from the best brains in that particular field. It also offers a unique opportunity for practitioners to contribute their own expertise to the development and advancement of their chosen profession.