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Iowa: Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses

Higher Education Articles October 7, 2013

What Does A Public Health Nurse Do?

Like other nursing professionals, the Iowa public health nurse is responsible for providing patients with quality care. This may include performing regular evaluations, providing patients with instructions on taking medications and educating patients about preventative care. Public health nurses have the added responsibility of responding to health concerns in the community, be they immediate epidemics or chronic issues such as obesity.

What Education and Professional Training Are Public Health Nurses Required To Obtain?

In order to practice, public health nurses must obtain certification as registered nurses (RN). Usually, this certification is achieved while attending an accredited four-year institution. Nurses in training may also need to take part in practicum experiences or clinical. Some health institutions require public health nurses to obtain extra certification as nurse practitioners.

Iowa: Challenges A Public Nurse May Face

Nurses in Iowa are lucky in that they have proximity to dozens of community health clinics. These community health clinics are further benefited by the research made available by local universities. However, public nurses will need to provide aid for the increasing number of chronic health issues in Iowa, especially obesity. Statistics related to the number of health centers and patients the Iowa public health nurse can expect are included below:

Iowa: Community Health Center Basics

Number of federally-supported health centers 83
Total Patients 170,925
Seasonal Farm worker Patients 1,271
Homeless Patients 10,386

Iowa: Community Health Center Clientele Data

Category Health Care Center Population State Population U.S. Population
Percent at or below 100% of Poverty 71% 14% 21%
Percent at or below 200% of Poverty 94% 33% 40%
Percent Uninsured 39% 12% 16%

Iowa: Health Challenges

Iowa’s relatively low percentage of uninsured and poverty-stricken patients translates to an overall better level of health. Unfortunately, conditions are not perfect, and obesity has led to a number of concerns including diabetes and heart disease.

Diabetes Control Timely Prenatal Care Hypertension Control Low Birth Weight Childhood Immunization Cervical Cancer Screening Asthma Therapy
Iowa 72.88% 77.34% 70.66% 7.32% 36.58% 49.94% 73.21%
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.

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