Steps to Becoming a Public Health Nurse

Becoming a public health nurse is a great career choice. A public health nurse is able to educate and also advocate for the health of an entire community. They will focus their work on members who are at a high risk for many health conditions and they will do the most work when there is a public health crisis. 

This position is going to need to work with many other clinicians and team members to provide health education along with disease prevention with the goal of providing the best in public health care. If you would like to become a public health nurse, some of the steps that you can use include:

Attend a Nursing Program

Steps to Becoming a Public Health Nurse

The first step that you need to work on if you would like to become a public health nurse is to go to an accredited nursing program. Getting a BSN from the right nursing program can make life easier in this career choice. You need to find the right nursing program that will help you get the knowledge and skills that you need in this career path. 

It is possible for you to become a nurse either through an AND or BSN program, you will need to get a bachelor’s degree to get the certification in public health. To get into the right nursing program, you will need to complete the right health science courses including:

  • Chemistry
  • Biomedical statistics
  • Nutrition
  • Biology
  • Anatomy and physiology

Each school will ask for different requirements before awarding the degree. Some will only let you be considered if you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 

Once that is done, you will also need to take and pass an entrance exam like the Kaplan Nursing School Admissions Test or the Test of Academic Skills. You may also need some letters of recommendation, a written career statement, or CPR certification. Each school is different so you will need to read up on your requirements ahead of time.  

Pass your NCLEX-RN

After you have had a chance to earn your nursing degree, it is necessary to become licensed to practice as an RN. The NCLEX-RN stands for the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse.

This is a nationwide exam that you need to take to become licensed to do your nursing duties in the United States. The point of this exam is to assess that you have the right abilities, critical thinking skills, and clinical knowledge to enter into the field of nursing. 

Gain Experience

Once you have had a chance to earn your RN license, you will be able to interview for your first nursing job. Many nurses will be able to start their career in a completely different specialization to help them gain experience. 

There are no rules when it comes to the specific career path that you can take with becoming a nurse. However, it is not uncommon for RNs to say that having prior nursing practice experience at the bedside helped them do better in their careers in public health later on. 

Obtain a Certification as a Certified Public Health Nurse

Obtain a Certification as a Certified Public Health Nurse

There is currently only one certification for individuals who work in this public health nursing field. This is the Certified Public Health. This is going to be a certification that is only given to those professionals who are interested in working in public health. It is not necessary if you only plan to work in the field of nursing. Nursing agencies can help you to choose from multiple options. 

There are a few requirements that need to be met before the certification can be done. These include:

  • A minimum of a bachelor’s degree and five years of public health work experience OR
  • A relevant graduate-level degree with three years of work in public health OR
  • A certificate from a program or school of public health that has been accredited by or is in applicant status with CEPH and three years of work in public health. 

There are a few other things to consider when it comes to getting the certification. This is offered year-round and is done on the computer. The original fee is $385 and there is a retake fee if you need it at $150. 

The test is going to have 200 questions on it and all of them will be multiple-choice and single-best answers. The participant will have four hours in order to get it done. Some of the questions will be done with associated charts and pictorials and others will be a series of questions or matching. 

Recertification for Your Public Health Career

You are able to take your test more than one time to become a public health nurse, but it does cost and take up a good amount of time to get it done. Once you pass, you will be able to keep it as long as you work on recertification. 

You will need to get a minimum of 50 recertification hours done every two years and pay a $95 fee as well. 

It used to be possible to get the Advanced Public Health Nursing Certification. This is only open for those who have already been certified and are working to get a renewal. Some of the requirements necessary for this include:

  • 75 hours of continuing education
  • Six quarter credits or five semester credits of academic courses in the specialty of your certification. 
  • One or more presentation that totals five clock hours in your specialty
  • A renewal fee of $350

It is important to keep these certifications updated and ready to go as much as possible. This will make it easier for you to keep going with your career in public nursing and will ensure that you can do some of the work that you would like. 

Choosing to Become a Public Health Nurse

There are a lot of benefits to choosing to become a public health nurse as your chosen career. Take a look at some of the steps above and see how you can become a public health nurse today!

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