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Public Health Nursing

Public health nursing is a nursing specialty concerned with offering nursing services to improve the overall health of a community. A public health nurse can work in a public health clinic, where he or she can provide low-cost or free medical services to people who come from low-income backgrounds. Treatments at a public health clinic can consist of routine vaccinations, physical examinations, and other basic health services. Additional services that are available in public health clinics are things like educational classes for the community including baby care and nutrition. Public health nurses can also choose to work in a healthcare policy setting, where they assist in designing policy and approaches to tackle the health of a local community. Public health nurses may also be employed by the government, where they work to address public health concerns.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to Johnson & Johnson, the average yearly salary for a public health nurse is between $40,000 - $55,000. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job outlook for registered nurses is positive, with 26% expected job growth between 2010 and 2020.

Education Requirements

According to Johnson & Johnson, to become a public health nurse, an individual must first become a registered nurse. This is accomplished by earning a nursing diploma, an ADN, or a BSN and passing the NCLEX-RN. Then, he or she must work as a registered nurse for at least 500 hours in the field of public health nursing. Finally, this individual must take and pass the Community/Public Health Nursing certification exam in order to become certified as a public health nurse.


The duties that fall on a public health nurse are quite vast and numerous. A public health nurse can monitor health trends as well as health risk factors that are specific to a local community; set priorities for local, health-associated interventions to offer the greatest number of benefits to people; communicate with local, federal and state governments to improve any access to health services for underprivileged communities; come up with health education campaigns and illness prevention activities like screenings and immunizations; inform people in the community about healthcare programs and services in the area; and educate and offer direct services to at-risk and vulnerable populations. The work of a public health nurse can even take them into settings such as schools, community centers and even senior centers. In those work environments, a public health nurse can explain proper nutrition, teach people about proper safety measures, suggest early detection of common illnesses, instruct people how to take care of stricken family members, and inform the community about significant health concerns for the area.

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