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Connecticut: Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses

Higher Education Articles September 29, 2013

The rewarding career of public health nurse is expected to expand into the foreseeable future. The field of nursing is expected to grow at least 26 percent by 2020, reflecting an addition of some 700,000 new jobs. The postings for public health nurses in Connecticut offer salaries roughly 12% higher than the national average.

What Do Public Health Nurses Do?

Public health professionals generally focus on improving the health of an entire community. They provide education, care management and primary care to families and individuals considered part of a high-risk group. As a public health nurse, you would have an important role in educating the public on healthcare issues, developing policies and programs geared toward improving health and implementing disease prevention programs. You would design educational campaigns, monitor health and disease trends in various communities and work to improve the health of at-risk groups from diabetics to AIDS patients.

What Characteristics Suit the Job?

Do you have great organizational and communication skills? Are you empathetic and tolerant of others who are not like you? A public health nurse has a wide variety of responsibilities and frequently must multitask. The ability to organize information and records is vitally important. Because the field requires working closely with patients, the general population and other healthcare professionals, the ideal candidate will need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely and must be tolerant of cultural diversity. Nurses who speak both English and Spanish are in particularly high demand. In this position, you would often be working on your own to develop solutions to patient and community problems, so if you’re an independent sort, this could be an excellent career choice.

Where Are Public Health Nursing Jobs?

Nurses in this specialty work in a neighborhood, town or facility to improve the health of residents or workers. For example, school nurses focus on the health and well-being of students and faculty while a town government worker would be involved in solving the health issues of local residents. Public health offers boundless variety; you could be working in a correctional institution, private corporation, government agency or hospital.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

All states require a nursing diploma to become a public health nurse. A few states will hire a professional with an Associate of Nursing degree, but most require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Degreed nurses must take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. After this, 500 hours of on-the-job experience in public health must be completed. Passing the Public Health Nursing Certification Exam is the final step toward qualifying for this challenging and rewarding career. Check the Connecticut Department of Health’s (DPH) Public Health Nursing website for continuing-education opportunities in the field.

How Do I Get Licensed?

All nurses in Connecticut must have a license in order to work in the field. All accreditation and licensing is controlled by the Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing, which is part of the Department of Public Health. You can easily access the eLicensing system to view and renew your licenses. The board also lists current job opportunities in Connecticut.

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