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Georgia: Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses

Higher Education Articles October 4, 2013

What Does A Public Health Nurse Do?

Most nurses care for their patients’, one at a time. However, that isn’t the case for Public Health Nurses. Instead, the role of a Georgia Public Health Nurse is to reach out to the entire community, identifying health trends affecting the community and equipping local residents with relevant education, health and safety resources and improved access to health care.

These community servants work as health care advocates for large groups of people whose goal is to provide a variety of health-related services for the greater good of that population.

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

Becoming a Georgia Public Health Nurse requires an individual to study to become a Registered Nurse (RN). This usually requires a four-year college degree along with passing a standardized examination called the NCLEX-RN.

In addition to these educational preparations, those interested in this field would also do well by getting some training in public health or public policy, as well as doing some volunteer work in community settings such as home health advocacy groups, home care service providers, hospice or community health clinics. Nurses fluent in both English and Spanish are in demand, in this field.

Georgia: Challenges a Public Health Nurse May Face

The United States has about 1200 community health centers; these centers mainly serve low-income individuals and families as well as those who have little to no access to health insurance.

Recently, the Federal Government began making its assessment of these community health centers to determine the overall quality of care available to the individuals served within these facilities. Following is the most recent data regarding the performance and impact of these centers in the state of Georgia.

Georgia: Community Health Center Basics

Number of federally-supported health centers: 27
Total Patients: 312,039
Seasonal Farm worker Patients: 16,734
Homeless Patients: 13,660

Georgia: Community Health Center Clientele Data

Health Center – Percent at or Below 100% of Poverty: 70%
Health Center – Percent at or Below 200% of Poverty: 93%
Health Center – Percent Uninsured: 50%
Georgia – Percent at or Below 100% of Poverty: 24%
Georgia – Percent at or Below 200% of Poverty: 44%
Georgia – Percent Uninsured: 20%
US – Percent at or Below 100% of Poverty: 21%
US – Percent Uninsured: 16%

Health Challenges

In Georgia, the number of patients at Health Care Centers receiving consistent treatments to control diabetes is about two-thirds of the population; patients receiving consistent care for asthma therapy are hovering at about three-fourths of the population.

The state also has great numbers involving low birth weights. On the flip side, though, there are far fewer patients within the Georgia community health care centers who are controlling their hypertension and getting timely childhood immunizations.

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

Diabetes Control: (GA) – 67.73%, (US) 70.9%
Timely Prenatal Care: (GA) – 60.54%, (US) 63.3%
Hypertension Control: (GA) – 57.02, (US) 59.6%
Low Birth Weight: (GA) – 10.80%, (US) 7.4%
Childhood Immunization: (GA) – 41.45%, (US) 43.8%
Cervical Cancer Screening: (GA) – 44.58%, (US) 57.8%
Asthma Therapy: (GA) – 76.71%, (US) 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

The median income for a Georgia Public Health Nurse is about $51,000 per year (varying, of course, by employer). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this career field (Public Health Nursing) is expected to grow by 26 percent by the year 2020.

Considering that there are more than 2 million individuals working as Registered Nurses now, that percentage translates to more than 700,000 jobs by 2020.

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