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Become a Public Health Nurse

In public health nursing, a public health nurse (PHN) works independently or with a team of other PHNs to prevent illness, injury, and disease, and also to promote general health within the community.  Public health nursing is responsible for identifying health problems in a community or a demographic within the community, and developing interventions to help solve and prevent the problem for fellow citizens.  These nurses advocate for vulnerable and under-represented populations and their role often focuses on educating citizens and/or government officials.  They most often work in government offices, but may spend the majority of their time out in the community, visiting clinics, private homes, events, schools, shelters, and more.

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Public Health Nursing College Education and Training

The requirements for working in public health nursing vary from state to state.  However, in all states you will first need to become a RN.  There are several paths to becoming an RN.  Some nurses will get a bachelor of science in Nursing (BSN) degree at an accredited four-year college or university.  Others will pursue an associates degree in nursing at a junior or community college.  Still others will get a registered nursing diploma through a vocational or technical school, but diploma programs are less common.  After completing the level of education you choose at an approved nursing program, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed.  In some states, you will be required to have your BSN, so check state requirements carefully before choosing your route to becoming an RN. 

At this point many nurses simply seek out jobs in public health nursing to begin their career in the field.  Specific education and training in public health is also available, including graduate programs in public health and certificate programs offered by nursing schools.

Public Heatlh Nurse Job Out look and Salary

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of registered nursing continues to grow and job prospects are excellent and this includes public health nursing.  Registered nurses make an average of $62,540.  The top ten percent of RNs make more than $92,000 (according to