Public Health Nursing

Public health nurses (PHNs) focus on improving the overall health of communities. They may be involved in research studies, community assessments and policy development. PHNs manage a caseload of nursing services for an assigned community area. When a medical problem could be a public health concern, they make home or business visits to evaluate the health status and needs of individuals and families. PHNs also consult with leaders of schools, businesses and other community institutions to evaluate health concerns. They plan and implement community health programs to meet specific health needs. Therefore, public health nurses must have knowledge of federal and state public health polices. Provides population based nursing services which provide adult and pediatric, family planning, immunization, communicable disease and sexually transmitted disease prevention, rural health screenings, and other health services. PHNs may work in programs such as communicable disease, TB control, HIV screening and testing, or chronic disease control.

To be a PHN, you must first obtain a registered nurse (RN) license. PHNs must also be board certified by the CBRN, which in addition to the RN license, requires coursework in public health nursing. However, an applicant who has completed BSN from an accredited college or university, and one year of clinical public health, corrections facility, or mental health nursing experience (a diploma or Associate Degree in Nursing plus additional experience may be considered in lieu of the B.S.); or any equivalent combination of education and experience which would provide the following knowledge, skills, and abilities:

  • Considerable knowledge of the principles, practices, and techniques of professional public health nursing
  • Considerable knowledge of physical assessments, communicable diseases, immunizations, and health maintenance,
  • Acute and chronic health care
  • Ability to deal effectively with the public, health care providers, and community agencies
  • Ability to deal effectively with individuals representing a broad socioeconomic spectrum
  • Ability to prepare reports and to communicate effectively both orally and in writing

Entry level PHN average $41-65,000 while an experience PHN averages $72,000.

American Nurses Association, 2009
U.S. Public Health Service Nursing, 2009
Pay Scale, 2009