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Minnesota: Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses

Higher Education Articles October 8, 2013

What Does a Public Health Nurse Do?

As with any nursing professional, the public health nurse is responsible for providing care for patients. This could include performing evaluations, providing preventative health measures such as vaccinations, giving patients 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, Professional Experience do you need to become a Public Health Nurse?

Public health nurses are required to obtain certification as registered nurses (RN). Typically, this certification is obtained through the pursuit of an education at a four-year college or university. 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.

Minnesota: Challenges a Public Health Nurse may face

During the past several decades, the Minnesota public health nurse has been blessed with an abundance in funding and support, as well as a relatively health population. Unfortunately, a fiscal deficit in 2010 resulted in heavy cuts to health and human services, a move that in turn led to major cuts in Minnesota’s community health clinics. The following statistics reflect the current position of community health clinics in Minnesota:

Minnesota: Community Health Center Basics

Number of federally-supported health centers 74
Total Patients 168,750
Seasonal Farm worker Patients 7,223
Homeless Patients 6,634

Minnesota: Community Health Center Clientele Data

Category Health Care Center Population State Population U.S. Population
Percent at or below 100% of Poverty 70% 14% 21%
Percent at or below 200% of Poverty 94% 30% 40%
Percent Uninsured 42% 9% 16%

Health Challenges

The good news for the Minnesota public health nurse is that patients are still more likely to have insurance and be above the poverty level. This suggests a greater propensity for receiving preventative care and thus not requiring as many major medical interventions. However, continually rising rates of obesity are expected, resulting in greater chronic health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.

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
Minnesota 76.74% 80.00% 61.00% 4.80% 56.80% 64.56% 72.94%
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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