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Community and Public Health Nursing

All About Community and Public Health Nurses

The nursing profession is one in which many different job types exist, although the parameters of the nursing industry are consistently changing. For one thing, there is a decided shortage of nurses (amongst other health care professionals), making it a great time to go into nursing. However, the shortage of qualified professionals in all areas of medicine is slated to grow over the next couple of decades, and one response to this crisis has been to push nurses to take on more duties, potentially requiring further education, in order to alleviate the burden on the dwindling number of doctors.

As it stands, RNs, LVNs, travel nurses, and pretty much every type of nurse is in high demand. But we may soon see more family nurse practitioners and other highly degreed nurses that are capable of providing care without the aid of a doctor. And one position that is likely to see exceptional need for qualified individuals is the field of community, or public health nursing. Here are a few things about this particular subset of nursing that may interest anyone seeking a job in this growing industry.

What is a community/public health nurse?
This field of nursing is one that serves entire communities, rather than individual patients, as the name suggests. Of course, this isn’t to say that a community nurse won’t be called upon to assess individual cases – these nurses are tasked with improving the public health where they live and work, and this often means working with individuals, families, and other groups to make sure that the residents in the community at large are receiving proper health care. Often, their focus is on educating the public on issues that affect a portion of the community, although they also perform many of the same functions as nurses in hospitals and private practice settings.

What are the job duties?
The responsibilities of a community nurse are so varied that it could be the one job in nursing that will actually provide fresh challenges daily. Community nurses may perform public vaccinations one day and help to get an elderly patient out of an unsanitary private residence and into an assisted living facility the next. The diverse array of responsibilities attributed to public health nurses can include counseling on health care and child development for pregnant women, helping disabled individuals to find the support services they need, and providing education on topics as diverse as domestic violence, STDs, nutrition and exercise, welfare services, birth control, and pretty much anything that affects the overall state of public health. As a result, this is one job that will never get boring.

Where do community nurses work?
Community nurses rarely work in hospitals. They are generally employed by government agencies, community clinics, and non-profit organizations that are concerned with preserving the public health within a geographic region. This may include dealing with health concerns at the local, city, state, or even national level. And nurses may work both in the clinical setting and in the field as well.

What are the educational requirements?
In order to become a community nurse, you must first become a registered nurse or complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Although an associate’s degree is often enough to become an RN, it is advisable to continue your education in order to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. In addition, community nursing requires specialized training and education in community health.

What are the benefits of working in this field?
In addition to helping individuals and families cope with and overcome their particular health concerns, community nurses have the opportunity to make entire communities better informed and more capable of managing their own health care, improving the lives of every citizen. Jobs in this field offer the chance to tackle a dizzying array of tasks, so those who get bored easily will find a lot to love. And the field is one that will undoubtedly grow as the gap between the number of health care providers and the number of patients in need continues to widen in the coming years.

Reputable institutions of higher learning like offer an abundance of classes that can lead you to the career in community nursing that meets your needs for diverse challenges, personal rewards, and the opportunity to help others in need.

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