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Nursing School and Career: Community Health Nurse

Overall job prospects for both registered and licensed practical nurses are excellent compared to other occupations. Community health nurses, in particular, are in especially high demand as there is a critical shortage of nurses practicing this particular specialty.

What is Community Health Nursing?

Community Health Nursing, interchangeably referred to as Public Health Nursing, combines nursing with public health principles. It involves actively promoting the health of a specific population or community utilizing expertise from nursing, social science, and public health. Instead of attending to the health of an individual or a family, the community health nurse targets improving the health of a community as a whole. Disease and injury prevention are a central focus of this field of nursing specialization.

What Do Community Health Nurses Do?

Community Health Nurses make health care readily available to populations with limited access to basic preventative services. They focus closely on the prevention of disease, injury, disability, and premature death. Community health nurses often work in tandem with other public health professionals such as health educators, epidemiologists, nutritionists, and public health physicians. They work within specific communities to determine the major health problems of that population and devise plans to alleviate those problems.

Community health nurses perform a diverse array of job functions which may include:

 

 

The Different Roles of Commuity Care Nurses

The role of the community health nurse varies, but usually falls into one of three categories.

Occupational Health Nurse
Occupational Health Nurses provide medical care and assistance to workers at a job site.

General Practice Health Nurse
General Practice Health Nurses usually work out of local government health departments which may include home visits and clinic work.

Case Management Nurse
Case Management Nurses have a designated caseload of families or individuals that they assist with specific health related concerns such as communicable diseases.

Practice Settings

Public health nurses work in a variety of settings outside of the traditional hospital. These may include schools, homes, clinics, jails, work sites, health departments, and mobile vans.

Community Health Nurse Job Requirements

Entry Level Educational Requirements

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is usually the minimum educational requirement for a career as a community health nurse. However, there are some opportunities for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) with an Associates degree. Only about 5% of entry level nurses take jobs in the public sector. This accounts for the shortage of nurses in this field, and the intense demand for qualified nursing candidates in this specialty.

Advanced Level Educational Requirements

Those wishing to advance to decision making level positions in community health nursing find that a higher level of education is usually required. Community health nurses in management level positions typically hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree, or are a clinical nurse specialist with a concentration in Community and Public Health. The Clinical Nurse Specialist in Public/Community Health Nursing is a common professional credential held by nurses in this field.

General Qualifications

Community health nurses require skill in disease prevention, health promotion, case management and strategic planning. They must be able to adapt to practicing nursing in non-traditional medical environments. Community health nurses must possess the skills to effectively communicate and interact with individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds.

 

Nursing Salary & Compensation

Registered nurses earned an annual median income of $57, 280 in 2006. The middle 50% of nurses in 2006 earned salaries ranging from $47,710 to $69, 850. Nurses in the highest 10% of earners made in excess of $83, 440. The breakdown of median incomes among industries employing the largest numbers of registered nurses in 2006 were as follows:

Employment services $64,260
General medical and surgical hospitals 58,550
Home health care services 54,190
Offices of physicians 53,800
Nursing care facilities 52,490

Community Health Nursing is, without question, a challenging field of specialization. The challenge, however, is not without reward. Community health nursing has positively impacted public health in communities across the country in areas such as: injury prevention, asthma control, child abuse and neglect prevention, and family functioning. For the nurse desiring to utilize her skills in an under staffed specialty with excellent opportunity for long term career growth, community health nursing may be the ideal choice.

 

 

 

 

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