Community health nurses concentrate on helping large groups of diverse individuals stay healthy and happy. If you are interested in this particular specialty, there are nursing programs available in the U.S. For added earning potential, you can also gain certification in community health nursing.
Education Requirements for Community Health Nursing
There are several community health nursing certificate programs. This branch of the nursing field is also referred to as public health nursing. Certificate nursing programs are usually designed for practicing nurses who already have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Also, a nurse who currently has employment in the public health field is a good candidate to attend. This kind of nursing program is available in an online format, designed for the convenience of working nursing professionals. Before entering a BSN program, you will need a good GPA and recommendations from professors and working nurses. Once you earn the BSN credential, you must take and pass the NCLEX-RN test. Then, you can use the title of “RN” or “Registered Nurse”.
Courses of study prepare community health nurses (CHNs) to work in public health by educating them in various health issues, including the spread of diseases. Additionally, CHNs learn to work within the community, and study effective methods for the assessment and implementation of school and community health programs. Many of the certificate programs partially transfer credits to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) level program in the same specialty.
Clinical or residency experience is a big portion of these community focused nursing programs. Subject areas that are covered include Health Care Diversity, Family Health Care in the Community, Public Health Assessment, Promotion of Public Health Care, and Studies of Disease Epidemics. Most CHNs learn the profession while attending nursing school.
Community Health Nurse Certification
As already mentioned, if you apply to a nursing certification program, a BSN degree is a prerequisite for acceptance. Plus, all applicants must currently hold a valid registered nurse license. Community health nursing certification programs are shorter in duration than other nursing programs. These nursing schools primarily focus on community and public health issues. There are also a small number of post-Master’s certificate programs in this specialty for those who have completed a Master’s degree program in this area of specialization.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers RNs certification in community health. If you meet the requirements and pass the certification test, you will hold the title of “RN-BC”, which stands for “Registered Nurse-Board Certified”. Before applying for certification, you must have earned clinical experience in the field of community health nursing.
Community Health Nursing Career Opportunities and Salaries
Community health nurses work in many different healthcare settings. A few of these are state and local health units, school health departments, private health clinics, and home care units. Community health nursing job opportunities are usually reserved for candidates with certification in the field. Today, home care is seen as a better means of caring for the sick and the growing elderly population. These nurses can effectively give quite complex care to patients’ preferring to stay at home for medical treatment.
In 2010, the average income for a school and community health nurse was approximately $60,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).According to most web sources, CHNs earn anywhere from $39,300 to $70,700 annually. The need for all types of registered nurses is projected to increase over the next ten years. The U.S. BLS predicts job prospects for registered nurses will increase by 22% as a result of the growth in the aging population among other factors.
Job Duties of the Community Health Nurse
Community health nurses are a valued group of professionals who are responsible for promoting the health of all ages of individuals including children, teens, adults and the elderly within diverse community settings. A career in this nursing specialty can be a rewarding life experience. Job duties include working in schools to provide care to children, giving immunizations, updating vaccines, drawing blood, testing for communicable diseases, and assisting with Pap smears and STI testing.
ANA (2013): http://www.nursingworld.org/
ANCC (2013): http://www.nursecredentialing.org/
Nurse.Org (2013): http://www.nurse.org/orgs.shtml