What is Public Health Nursing?

Public health nursing is a specialty area that involves caring for a group of people to affect the health of entire communities positively. Nurses in this field focus on long-term and preventative care instead of acute care. For example, nurses work to improve public health through disease prevention initiatives like immunization clinics. Prevention of disease and environmental health are two common focus areas. Public health nursing refers to the general health care industry and its growing need for nurses to apply their knowledge of caring for single or few patients to a vast amount at once.

As the industry grows into one of the largest and most critical industries, the public health nursing definition is taking on a new meaning. This type of nursing is crucial to maintaining healthy communities through various disciplines. These disciplines include nursing and also social sciences and leadership to embellish their skills in the industry.

How to Become a Public Health Nurse

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When learning how to become a public health nurse, students should enter nursing school and graduate at either the associate level or bachelor’s level. After earning a degree, they can apply for a Registered Nurse license. However, a license is only awarded after candidates pass the NCLEX exam successfully and complete the clinical hours required. Therefore, becoming a nurse is the first requirement of public health nurse qualifications.

Once a student earns their license, the next step is to get more education. Nurses can enroll in a BSN to MSN program or RN to MSN bridge program and earn a master’s. Then, they can focus on public health with a specialization as a nurse practitioner or other credential. Now, a nurse can serve in a community capacity and monitor health trends and priorities for their communities.

Experienced public health nurses move into higher positions such as Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Anesthetists or move from clinical care to administration. Advanced education is now widely available and there is also a need for highly-trained nurses. Additionally, nurses have support from organizations like the American Public Health Association that provide resources to respond to crises. These organizations also support nurses as leaders the public can seek out in their healthcare facilities.

History of Public Health Nursing

We can trace the history of public health nursing back to the beginning of the nursing field, as nurses worked consistently to tend to wounded soldiers on the battlefield and when disease outbreaks left communities crippled. During all of these times and episodes, the nurses working displayed public health nurse requirements by looking for trends in their wounds and diseases and patterns for healing them, giving them the ability to begin progress in the public health industry. In addition, because they were working directly with patients, nurses frequently saw patterns before anyone else.

Over the past decade, there has been a gradual shift toward public health nursing. Licensed nurses serve patients in a more evidence-based and community-based way. Nursing has shifted from the home healthcare nurse working with a single patient to a nurse working with many patients and determining efficient solutions to enhance their care.

8 Principles of Public and Community Health

The eight principles of public health nursing include the following list below. These principles outline the public health nurse’s roles and responsibilities

  1. Population-based assessment
  2. Partnership with local representatives
  3. Primary prevention and health promotion
  4. Intervention strategies
  5. Reaching out to those who are not as readily accessible in the community
  6. Focus on the greater good of the population as one
  7. Allocate resources to provide the maximum healthcare benefit
  8. Collaborating with other experts for premium health quality

What are the Eight Characteristics of Community Health Nursing?

These eight public health nursing principles are the standard of public health nursing practice and the final requirement of public health nursing qualifications. When a nurse can successfully maintain these eight principles, that is public health nursing.

These principles are combined to provide better health for communities because they focus on relationship building, integrity, and an in-depth understanding of the local community and their needs. In addition, the perception, partnership, and resources of a public health nurse can elevate the living quality of a community.