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New Jersey – Public Health Nursing Outlook

Higher Education Articles September 28, 2013

What does a Public Health Nurse do?

A New Jersey public health nurse will be heavily involved in the government program delivery of basic healthcare programs, both in urban and rural settings via community health clinics. Considering New Jersey has a number of high concentration locations, it is quite common for public health nurses to be working on programs that target different communities in the same city area. Unlike a standard nurse position which frequently focuses on one patient at a time, a public health position services entire groups of people, young and old, through underserved population programs.

Often public health nurses operate as program managers, providing both a medical oversight, as well as a government manager service. Duties often include tracking and statistical recording of health trends in a community group, advocating for increases resources to a given program, education of community members with preventative health information, and managing existing service delivery programs.

Education Requirements for a Public Health Nurse

A New Jersey public health nurse can expect, at a minimum, to be required to have a college degree, often at the bachelor level, as well as a registered nurse license with the state medical regulation board. Additionally, public health nurses also need to have national licensing in place with the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

New Jersey: Challenges a Public Health Nurse May Face

Public health nurses in New Jersey frequently find their career roles placed directly in the operation of government-funded health centers for underserved populations. Many such centers are supported in New Jersey through federal funding and are designated as a service point for an identified Medically Underserved Population (MUP).

The New Jersey organization involved under federal requirements has to be of some type of non-profit status. Further, it needs to incorporate an affordable fee structure so that all patients utilizing the service can obtain health access.

As a result, to keep the center funded, public health nurses involved often find themselves in the role of seeking and advocating for increased government funding of the given center, as well as private donations.

New Jersey: Community Health Center Basics

Number of federally-supported health centers: 119

Total Patients: 432,328

Seasonal Farm worker Patients: 13,879

Homeless Patients: 23,070

New Jersey: Community Health Center Clientele Data

Category Health Care Center Population State Population U.S. Population
Percent at or Below 100% of Poverty 75% 16% 21%
Percent at or Below 200% of Poverty 95% 32% 40%
Percent Uninsured 42% 15% 16%

New Jersey: Health Challenges

In terms of performance, public health nurses entering New Jersey will find that the state’s community health centers are not performing at least at the level of the national averages. Aside from Asthma Therapy and Low Birth Weight control, the state as a whole is slightly under the national averages in every major category in terms of service delivery performance.

This creates an added pressure on public health nurses to increase performance metrics while chasing after financial resources, to provide services.

New Jersey: 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 Jersey 66.73% 65.51% 61.61% 7.5% 38.28% 54.77% 75.15%
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

There is no question that public health nurses, like other nursing career occupations, will continue to see demand for skilled and trained workers. The average salary level tends to be slightly above $50,000 annually, which contributes to demand given many nurses seek higher paying positions in traditional nurse jobs.

Additionally, there is a growing need for bilingual nurses, particularly Spanish-speaking public health nurses in community service roles. The overall need for such workers is expected to continue growing through the next two decades, especially in heavy urban areas.

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