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Mississippi: Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses

Higher Education Articles October 8, 2013

What does a Public Health Nurse do?

Public health nurses “integrate community involvement and knowledge about the entire population with personal, clinical understandings of health and illness experiences of individuals and families within the population,” according to the definition given by the American Public Health Association.

Public health nurses often serve as the front line for individuals of varied backgrounds in search of preventative medical care.

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

Qualifications for a Mississippi public health nurse include licensure as a registered nurse (RN) and an associate degree as the minimum educational requirement. Some jobs may require public health nurses to possess a bachelor degree in nursing. There are also positions that require nurses to be fluent in both English and Spanish, to better serve a diverse population.

Public health nurses must also be able to interact with and service individuals and families coming from low income and under-served backgrounds. Exhibiting and openness toward cultural diversity is a must and the ability to be creative and passionate about serving the public is also welcomed.

Mississippi: Challenges a Public Health Nurse May Face

Over 20 million people, many of whom are poor and uninsured, rely on the services offered by the 1,200 community health clinics located throughout the country. These clinics often act as the primary source of care for those were medically under-served. The data below sheds important light on the performance of community health clinics located throughout Mississippi.

Mississippi: Community Health Center Basics

Number of federally-supported health centers 21
Total Patients 314,612
Seasonal Farm worker Patients 999
Homeless Patients 7,455

Mississippi: Community Health Center Clientele Data

Category Health Care Center Population State Population U.S. Population
Percent at or below 100% of Poverty 72% 29% 21%
Percent at or below 200% of Poverty 94% 52% 40%
Percent Uninsured 43% 19% 16%

Mississippi: Health Challenges

As a positive, more community health clinic patients in Mississippi seek to have their children immunized, when compared to U.S. averages. On a challenging note, Mississippi far outpaces the U.S. average when it comes to the number of low birth-weight babies born in the state.

Fewer Mississippi community health clinic patients have their asthma, diabetes and hypertension problems under control. In addition, a lower number of pregnant women take advantage of timely prenatal care.

Mississippi: 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
Mississippi 67.56% 64.11% 57.05% 17.63% 48.30% 49.61% 65.56%
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 average public health nurse can expect to make a median annual salary of $51,000, according to information gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure is somewhat lower than the average salary made by registered nurses, which totals to $64,000 per year.

Experts expect the field of nursing to see a 26-percent increase by 2020. With 2 million individuals currently working in the field of nursing, the increase represents approximately 700,000 new jobs by the end of this current decade.

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