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Nevada: Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses

Higher Education Articles October 7, 2013

What does a Public Health Nurse do?

Public health nurses are individuals who work to facilitate and improve health care throughout the community. These nurses often provide direct health care services to vulnerable and at risk communities. Public health nurses also place their primary focus on educating the community, at large, about preventative care, while providing critical healthcare services for low income and rural populations.

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

A Nevada public health nurse must be licensed as a registered nurse (RN) in order to work in the field. Public health nurses must also possess an associate degree as the minimum educational requirement. Some job descriptions may require nurses to hold a bachelor degree in nursing. Many employers desire nurses who are capable of fluent bilingual communication in English and Spanish.

Public health nurses serve a diverse population of individuals and families from all walks of life. Therefore, openness toward cultural diversity is an absolute must. Anyone wishing to work within this field must be willing to work with low income individuals and families. Public health nurses must also have extraordinary creativity and passion for their work.

Nevada: Challenges a Public Health Nurse May Face

Nearly 1,200 community health clinics, located across the nation are tasked, with serving over 20 million people, most of which come from low income backgrounds and lack insurance. These patients often require comprehensive primary care, in addition to enabling services.

The federal government has taken an interest in investigating and observing the quality of care given at these clinics to ensure patients receive appropriate care. The data below provides information on the clinical performance of health clinics located throughout Nevada.

Nevada: Community Health Center Basics

Number of federally-supported health centers 2
Total Patients 55,588
Seasonal Farm worker Patients 67
Homeless Patients 4,955

Nevada: Community Health Center Clientele Data

Category Health Care Center Population State Population U.S. Population
Percent at or below 100% of Poverty 55% 15% 21%
Percent at or below 200% of Poverty 88% 35% 40%
Percent Uninsured 49% 19% 16%

Nevada: Health Challenges

Nevada is above-average when it comes to community health clinic patients controlling their diabetes and hypertension. There are also more women seeking cervical cancer screenings in the state than the U.S. average. However, Nevada is below-average when compared to U.S. averages in areas such as childhood immunization and asthma therapy.

State statistics also show a dearth of pregnant women taking advantage of prenatal care in the first trimester, despite a below-average percentage of low birth weight babies being born.

Nevada: 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
Nevada 74.83% 30.10% 64.87% 5.05% 36.89% 61.60% 62.45%
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

According to information gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a public health nurse can be expected to earn around $51,000 per year. However, this is significantly lower than the average annual salary of a registered nurse, which is approximately $64,000.

This figure can vary among employers. Meanwhile, experts foresee a tremendous growth within the nursing field. Statistics show that the nursing field can expect over 700,000 new positions to be created by 2020. This represents a 26-percent increase of the 2 million positions currently filled by registered nurses.

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