The 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated to the world how critical the public health system is, and renewed interest among students and working professionals in becoming public health nurses. But just what is a public health nurse, and what do they do?
How to Become a Public Health Nurse?
The process of becoming a public health nurse starts with earning a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Nursing. Once you have completed your studies and taken the exam to become a licensed nurse, your next step is to pursue a career in which you serve the community in that capacity. This can be as a nurse in your local Health Department or other government agency. You also have the option of returning to school and earning a degree in Public Safety Administration and Management. This will deepen your knowledge of community service and give you the necessary skills to manage large case files as well as work with the community at large.
Public health nurses assist organizations like the Salvation Army in meeting the needs of individuals who have been victimized by natural disasters and other catastrophic events. They work in many different capacities such as collecting vital information, assisting patients in getting the right medications, and also creating a safe environment for those affected. They are also able to ensure that schools and other local entities have what they need to maintain the highest safety standards possible.
What Jobs Are Available to a Public Health Nurse?
Public health nurses can work in a wide variety of positions. As a public health nurse, they work hand in hand with public officials to keep the community at large safe and healthy. They can also find employment as public health educators teaching classes on many different topics. Managed care administrators and disaster specialists are also options. Public health nurses may work in many of these capacities, depending on the size of their community and how deep the workforce is.
Health services research analysts and project specialists in public health perform research to identify health issues in both the private and public sectors. These individuals continually gather the information that is used to monitor factors that affect public health and well-being. This category also includes public health scientists as well. This type of scientist performs many different tasks that include monitoring water and air samples near factories and keeping track of outbreaks of disease or an increase of contaminants.
How Much Does a Public Health Nurse Make Each Year?
The salary of a public health nurse will depend on their level of experience, their education, and where they choose to start in terms of employment. Entry-level positions can make as little as $35,000 a year, sometimes less if they have very little experience and apply right after graduation. The more experience a student has when they first apply will have a direct impact on the type of position they are offered as well as the money they earn. Once the nurse has a year or two of experience to their credit, they can expect to receive offers for higher-paying positions.
Individuals who have many years of experience working in the healthcare system or in a medical facility may expect to earn as much as $80,000 or more. Having a Public Health Nurse is also beneficial and may increase your earning potential dramatically. Earning a Public Health Nurse certification also has benefits and courses can be completed much faster than a degree program. Certifications are also helpful in terms of fulfilling state licensing requirements concerning continuing education courses. While both degrees and certifications will work for continuing education requirements, certifications are much quicker to obtain and normally focus on one particular topic.
What Type of Degrees Are Best for a Public Health Nurse?
First and foremost, a Public Health Nurse must obtain a nurse’s license. This involves earning the minimum of at a Bachelor’s degree in some type of nursing degree program. While certification courses are available, they will not take the place of an actual degree program. Instead, they work well for meeting the required hour of continuing education that are needed each year. The required number of continuing education hours needed to maintain or keep a license current is set by the state, with each state having its own guidelines.
There are several degree programs that can be used to obtain employment as a Public Health Nurse. A Public Health Nurse can return to school and earn Bachelors and Masters degrees in Public Health Administration or Public Safety, either of which provides the skills they will need to perform their duties. Public Health Management courses are also available that can provide additional instruction on how to work hand in hand with the public when dealing with a stressful situation.