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Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses in Vermont

Career News September 26, 2013

Vermont Public Health Nurse practice a holistic and humanistic discipline that draws its knowledge, theory, and research base from behavioral, natural, and nursing sciences. Public health nurses go into communities, set up community health clinics, and try and help people improve their health and prevent disease. These professionals believe that health is affected by many factors, including genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environment.

Job Duties of a Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses care for populations in a community, as opposed to individual patients. They are actively involved in the communities they serve, caring for educating community members about their health care and clinical options. Public health nurses bring health care services to vulnerable and at-risk populations; for example, they may work at in homes for the elderly, so that the residents need not travel to the hospital or clinic.

Because they work with whole communities, public health nurses are vital to improving community health, safety, and access to care. They are responsible for monitoring trends in the community and identifying risk factors in that community. They communicate with local, state and federal government authorities about the community’s needs. For example, a public health nurse in a community with many young children may design and implement a program for immunizations and screenings.

Education Requirements to Become a Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses must be licensed registered nurses, “RNs,” however, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, “BSN,” is recommended. Licensed registered nurses have an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, “ADN,” which takes approximately two full-time years to complete.

A BSN typically takes an additional two full-time years to complete. Unlike other courses of study, a student may not earn an associate’s degree in any subject, such as teaching, then transfer to a BSN program. She will have to commit to another 3 to 4 years of schooling to earn a BSN.

The general requirements for a BSN include:

•58-78 units in transfer credits from an ADN program, unless the student has matriculated into a four-year BSN program;
•36 units in specific to BSN courses;
•An additional 6-21 unit of support courses.
•120 total units are required to graduate with a BSN.

Upon graduation, nursing students are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Master’s Program in Vermont

In the state of Vermont, people interested in public health nursing coming from other areas of work and study may be candidates for the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing, “MESN,” at the University of Vermont. The UVM website describes the programs as such:

The master’s entry program, in nursing, is an accelerated educational program that prepares well-qualified graduates, of a baccalaureate or higher degree programs in other disciplines, to become advanced practice nurses in an intensive program, designed for highly motivated students.

The MESN program takes 12 intensive months to complete. Students earn a total of 38 credits before taking their licensure exam.

It is easy to learn more about the program here: University of Vermont MESN.

Job Outlook in Vermont

According to Vermont Public Health Jobs, in Vermont they expect to have lost more than half of the nursing industry’s workforce by the year 2020. They have prepared for this by offering financial incentives to public health nurses, for nurses to pursue graduate studies, and for trained nurses to become teachers. They hope this will help expand nursing programs and lessen the projected shortage.

Vermont Health Careers lists the salary range for public health nurses as $46,019 – $56,460, with the average salary being $51,000-$55,000.

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