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Delaware: Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses

Higher Education Articles October 6, 2013

What does a Public Health Nurse do?

Most nurses care for one or two patients at a time, and they focus on the needs of those patients as individuals. A Delaware public health nurse, in contrast, may work with individual patients, but they also focus on the larger healthcare needs of an entire community. To that end, they may promote increased safety, public health initiatives, or work to expand access to healthcare within a community.

What Education, Professional Experience do you need to become a Public Health Nurse?

In order to apply for a job as a Delaware public health nurse, an individual must first become a registered nurse. To do this, they must earn a nursing degree and pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses).

Additionally, these professionals may want to possess other skills like creativity, organization, and empathy. These characteristics will help them to work with diverse populations in positive ways.

Delaware: Challenges a Public Health Nurse May Face

A federally funded public health clinic is a clinic that focuses primarily on the healthcare needs of the underserved section of the population. Their patients are sometimes uninsured or under insured. Nearly one-third of them do not speak English as their native tongue, and nearly two-thirds of them are from ethnic or racial minorities.

These clinics treat all kinds of health problems, but they focus on children and women’s health care as they see mostly women and children.

Clinics vary from state to state, but the following statistics illustrate the situations that may be encountered by a Delaware public health nurse.

Delaware: Community Health Center Basics

Number of federally-supported health centers 4
Total Patients 33,123
Seasonal Farm worker Patients 149
Homeless Patients 817

Delaware: Community Health Center Clientele Data

Category Health Care Center Population State Population U.S. Population
Percent at or below 100% of Poverty 61% 17% 21%
Percent at or below 200% of Poverty 96% 35% 40%
Percent Uninsured 40% 12% 16%

Delaware: Health Challenges

A Delaware public health nurse will face unique challenges while also encountering some positives. On one hand, only approximately two thirds of the population has their diabetes under control, gets prenatal care in a timely fashion, and has their hypertension under control.

However, less than half of the child population gets the vaccination that they need.

Delaware: What Public Health Nurses can expect at Community Health Centers

Diabetes Control Timely Prenatal Care Hypertension Control Low Birth Weight Childhood Immunization Cervical Cancer Screening Asthma Therapy
Delaware 66.81% 64.86% 63.35% 5.07% 45.82% 63.07% 39.75%
U.S. Average 70.9% 70.0% 63.3% 7.4% 43.8% 57.8% 69.1%

What the Numbers Mean

Diabetes Control: The percentage of adults, age 18 to 75, with diabetes who have their blood sugar under control, defined as an HbA1c under 9 percent.

Timely Prenatal Care: The percentage of pregnant women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester.

Hypertension Control: The percentage of adults, age 18 to 85, with hypertension who have their blood pressure under control, defined as under 140/90.

Low Birth Weight: The percentage of babies born with birth weight below 2,500 grams.

Childhood Immunization: The percentage of children who receive 10 federally recommended vaccines by 2 years of age.

Cervical Cancer Screening: The percentage of women, age 24 to 64, with at least one Pap test in the prior three years.

Asthma Therapy: The percentage of patients age 5 to 40 who have persistent asthma who receive asthma drugs.

Job Outlook for a Public Health Nurse

The job outlook for a Delaware public health nurse is positive. This field is projected to grow at a rate of at least 26% over the next ten years which is faster than average. Some estimates anticipate even more growth as access to public health is expanded due to changes in legislation regarding health care.

The potential salary is also positive, and the median yearly salary for a registered nurse is currently about $64,000 per year.

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