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 continues to spiral 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 a variety of disciplines. These disciplines include nursing and also public health, social sciences, and leadership to embellish their skills in the industry.
To know what is public health nursing is to see where the nurses are heading. Public health nurses move into higher positions such as Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Anesthetist, or move from clinical care to administration. With the advanced education (both MSN and DNP) that is available to these nurses and the need for them to advance beyond an RN, they have support from organizations like the American Public Health Association to give them the resources they need to respond in the event of a crisis and be the leaders that the public will seek out in their healthcare facilities.
How to Become a Public Health Nurse
When learning how to become a public health nurse, students should enter nursing school and graduate at either the Associate level or Bachelor level with their Registered Nurse licensure. This is only awarded after completing the NCLEX exam successfully and completing clinical hours required. This is the first requirement of public health nurse qualifications.
Once a student has earned their licensure, the next step is to move into the BSN to MSN program or RN to MSN bridge program where they will get that educational insight to public health. At that time they can further their degree or gain a specialization as a nurse practitioner or other form of public health nurse. This allows the nurse to them to begin serving in community capacity and monitor health trends and priorities for the communities that they are serving.
History of Public Health Nursing
The history of public health nursing can be traced 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. Because they were working directly with patients, nurses frequently saw patterns before anyone else.
In 2010, the nursing field took a swift turn, as this gradual shift towards public health nursing and how to become a public health nurse publicly called on the healthcare industry to entrust their nurses with the license and ability to serve patients in a more evidence-based, 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 Health Nursing
The 8 principles of public health nursing include the following:
- Population-based assessment
- Partnership with local representatives
- Primary prevention and health promotion
- Intervention strategies
- Reaching out to those who are not as readily accessible in the community
- Focus on the greater good of the population as one
- Allocate resources to provide the maximum healthcare benefit
- Collaborating with other experts for premium health quality
These 8 principles of public health nursing become the standards of public health nursing practice and the final requirement of public health nursing qualifications. When a nurse can successfully maintain these 8 principles, that is what is public health nursing. These principles combined to allow a better quality of health for communities because it is based on relationship building, integrity, and an in-depth understanding of the local community and their needs. Perception, partnership, and resources of a public health nurse can elevate the living quality of a community.