Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What is a Public Health Nurse?

This definition is directly from the APHA website. And Yes the American Public Health Association has nurses as members. There is a Nursing Section that you can join, even as a student nurse!

 But wait, wait, let me back up here. Nursing. We make it complicated to specialize. Why? I don't know. But here it goes for me to explain this a little bit as best as I can. In California, where I live you can be a certified public health nurse by the California Board of Registered Nursing from here on out known as the BRN. There are several ways to become a nurse

  1. Get your diploma from a hospital program (rare these days to find)

  2. Get your Associates degree in nursing from a community college or private school

  3. Get your Bachelor's degree or Bachelor's Entry accelerated degree in nursing from a 4-year school

  4. Get your RN courses through an accelerated Master's program (like what I did, usually called an A-MSN/MS, MEPN, direct entry, accelerated MSN/MS, MSN-E, etc.)

I'm sure there must be other ways, but those are the most common. Now, to complicate things even more there are various types of Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate degrees, but we'll talk about that in another future post here (). But you can get a BSN, BS, or BN. Same thing with the Master's you can get an MN, MS, and MSN. There are also two options for doctorates: PhD and DNP. But I digress.

Once you complete the minimum criteria for licensure in the Great state of California, you can sit for the BRN exam (as of 2013 85% of people pass, but the exam is changing to be more difficult). In nursing you only get one license and that's your Registered Nurse License that you have to renew with Continuing Education Units every 2 years, aka RN. Everything else is a certificate for PHN, CNS, NP, CNA, and CNM all from the BRN. Once you get your RN you can apply for a Public Health Nurse Certificate if your school had a public health rotation and went over abuse (most California nursing schools do). You must fill out a form and send them a check and voila! you get your PHN Certificate. Now, once you get that and you find that you LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Public Health Nursing and want to do even more population work in community health, you can get your Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) certificate in the state of California as an Advanced Practice Public Health Nurse, state certification. And if you want to be super ambitious, you can become a National Board Certified Advanced Practice Public Health Nurse (APPHN-BC). Phew! If that doesn't make you tired, there's more! You can, as a CNS, apply to be a Medi-Cal (California Medi-Care) provider and become a consultant and charge the state for your services, if you want. Some CNS specialties can prescribe in 13 other states (not California, yet). So, that's kind of how you become a public health nurse, it's more complicated than that- especially my story, but for now, just keep reading.

"About Public Health Nursing

Public health nursing may be practiced by one public health nurse or by a group of public health nurses working collaboratively. In both instances, public health nurses are directly engaged in the inter-disciplinary activities of the core public health functions of assessment, assurance and policy development. Interventions or strategies may be targeted to multiple levels depending on where the most effective outcomes are possible. They include strategies aimed at entire population groups, families, or individuals. In any setting, the role of public health nurses focuses on the prevention of illness, injury or disability, the promotion of health, and maintenance of the health of populations. They translate and articulate the health and illness experiences of diverse, often vulnerable individuals and families in the population to health planners and policy makers, and assist members of the community to voice their problems and aspirations. Public health nurses are knowledgeable about multiple strategies for intervention, from those applicable to the entire population, to those for the family, and the individual. Public health nurses translate knowledge from the health and social sciences to individuals and population groups through targeted interventions, programs, and advocacy.
Vision Public Health Nursing leading the way in building healthy communities, achieving health equity and social justice, and improving quality of life for all communities.
Mission Statement Public Health Nursing advancing the health of the population in partnership with the community through evidence-based practice, education, and research.
  • Serving as a national voice for public health nurses (PHN’s).
  • Providing a national forum for nurses to discuss and exchange ideas and knowledge of community health-related matters.
  • Facilitating the conduct and utilization of research on matters related to public health and nursing.
  • Jointly planning and coordinating activities with other Sections of the Association to achieve organizational goals.
  • Serving as repository for PHN history and traditions.
  • Promoting the inclusion of PHN’s in all deliberations about health policy and research in which nurses have expertise, interest and/or a unique perspective to contribute.
  • Fostering the personal and professional development of members by increasing their awareness and use of the political process in providing PHN services to people.
  • Serving as advocate for populations at risk in need of health and related services.
  • Advocating for "Health for All" through promotion of a broad view of health and involvement in the multi-sectors influencing the health of communities.

Strategic Priorities

The following strategic priorities have been established in order to meet the central challenge:
  • Ensure social justice and eliminate health disparities;
  • Strengthen the public health work force;
  • Actively engage students; and
  • Promote environmental health."

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