Community/Public Health Nursing School Specialties

Community and public health basics are covered in undergraduate nursing school and are emphasized as part of a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). To some extent most working RNs consider the needs of a patient population while they are caring for patients one-on-one.

Healthcare across various communities and within particular populations is the domain of the community and public health nurse. This specialization is no longer relegated to a public health department, either. CH RNs work in a huge assortment of patient and non-patient care areas.

Role of Community Health Nurse

Regardless of the work environment, the role of a community health nurse is to provide medical and health guidance to members of a population or community. For example, a school health nurse—also a type of community health RN—is responsible for providing care for each student, but he or she must also consider the healthcare needs and issues that confound the entire school, or student community. A school nurse would have to tackle disease transmission, hygiene, control of outbreaks, health instruction and much more.

Instead of assessing individual patients a CH RN might perform a community healthcare assessment, evaluating weaknesses and delivery of appropriate medical attention. For RNs in administrative roles they may be responsible for creating system-wide, agency-wide, hospital-wide processes and procedures that deal with widespread infection, sanitation, documentation, containment and how auxiliary staffs may be utilized to delivery community health.

Nursing Degrees for Community Health Nurses

Community/Public Health Nursing is a distinctive specialty within the larger scheme of licensed nursing. Most new grads fresh from undergraduate nursing schools are welcome in entry-level jobs within hospitals, doctors’ offices, EDs, nursing homes and outpatient medical clinics. But a Community Health nurse operates in a higher capacity than entry-level.

Prerequisite to a Community/Health Nursing degree program is commonly the BSN. From the BSN degree you’ll discover many grad school nursing programs that feature the MSN Community/Public Health Nurse specialization degree.

MSN Community Public Health programs provide you first with the core curriculum common to a Masters level nursing degree. This is immediately followed with the concentration courses in CPH, which could include any of the following:

  • Advanced Statistics
  • Community Health Issues
  • At Risk Populations
  • Advanced Family Health
  • Community/Public Health Theory
  • Clinicals
  • Thesis

You’ll also find some Post Grad Certificate in C/PH programs as well.
A Nurse Practitioner may also have the option to specialize in the community public health practice area, as well.

Many of the C/PH degree programs are available to students in campus-based, distance-based or online, or in blended programs.

Armed with an MSN C/PH degree and your RN license you are prepared to go to work in a wide array of environments:

  • Corrections
  • Public health departments
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Residential care facilities
  • Administration
  • Education
  • and more

The credentialing in this field is the Certified Public Health Professional exam. The American Public Health Association provides support services for working RNs in this field of healthcare.

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