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New Hampshire: Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses

Higher Education Articles October 3, 2013

What does a Public Health Nurse do?

Public health nurses fill a critical role in low-income, high-risk, and under-served communities. Not only do they provide primary health care to individuals within a specific community, they offer health care education, organize screenings and immunizations, advocate on behalf of their community to government and elected officials, and determine community-specific health risk factors.

Public health care nurses must remain closely connected to a community in order to properly assess its needs.

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

At a minimum, Public Health Nurses must earn a Registered Nurse’s diploma, which requires an Associate of Science Degree in Nursing. However, many employers prefer that a candidate possess a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree.

Given the communities in which they serve, Public Health Nurses must be willing and able to work with a diverse population with varying health care needs, manage nursing staff, and determine and establish budgets. They must also be passionate about a job that is stressful and requires working long hours, often on weekends and evenings. Furthermore, it may be beneficial for a Public Health Nurse to be Bilingual, depending on the community.

New Hampshire: Challenges a Public Health Nurse May Face

According to the Census Bureau, roughly 16% of Americans were uninsured as of 2010. Many uninsured look to public health clinics to meet their health care needs. There are just over a thousand community health clinics in the U.S. serving more than 20 million patients, which place a heavy work-load on Public Health Nurses throughout the country.

Like most in every state, a New Hampshire Public Health Nurse faces a multitude of challenges, given how many patients are in their care. The following information provides recent data on the state of New Hampshire’s number of community health care centers, as well who uses them.

New Hampshire: Community Health Center Basics

Number of federally-supported health centers: 10
Total Patients: 65,810
Number Seasonal Farm worker Patients: 188
Number Homeless Patients: 45,512

New Hampshire: Community Health Center Clientele Data

Category Health Care Center Population State Population U.S. Population
Percent at or below 100% of Poverty 54% 10% 21%
Percent at or below 200% of Poverty 78% 25% 40%
Percent Uninsured 32% 10% 16%

New Hampshire: Health Challenges

New Hampshire performs well above the national average when it comes to diabetes control, timely prenatal care, cervical cancer screenings, and asthma therapy. Additionally, New Hampshire does slightly better than the national average for hypertension control and childhood immunization. However, the state does not do as well as the rest of the nation in low birth weight.

New Hampshire: 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
New Hampshire 81.96% 78.29% 66.74% 6.48% 42.73% 68.04% 80.66%
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

On average, Public Health Care Nurses make $51,000-$55,000 per year, depending on their employer. This salary is slightly lower than the median salary for a registered nurse, which is around $64,690, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The job outlook for nursing professions is good, with a growth rate of 26% through 2020, faster than the national average.

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