A public health nurse holds a specialty position in nursing that is involved less in the day-to-day care of patients and more in education of individuals, families, groups, and communities regarding health and risk factors. The public health nurse typically works for a larger health care provider, or they may work as part of a government agency. They work to not only educate groups about physical and mental health, but also work to identify potential at-risk individuals or groups to reach out to and advocate for.
Primarily, public health nurses help with developing education and awareness programs for groups related to preventive care. The nurse creates presentations and gathers educational materials, so they must possess excellent written and verbal communication skills. Public health nurses also reach out to communities, collaborating with school personnel and administrators, local clinicians, and church groups (among others) to identify families or groups who may have risk factors related to physical and mental health. The public health nurse attempts to work with these individuals and groups to provide them with the information they need to lead healthier lives.
Typically, a public health nurse has graduated from an accredited university nursing program and is credentialed as a registered nurse. The public health nurse also must typically have practical experience and training related to community and group outreach in hospital and healthcare environments. Experience in education, disease prevention programs, and similar areas is also helpful.
Public Health Nurse Tasks
Assess patients, make health judgments and suggest treatment plans.
Visit patients at home to conduct evaluations.
Provide referrals and connect patients to support services.
Document interactions, consent and historical data in an electronic record.
Educate patients and administer treatments.