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New York: Outlook and Challenges for Public Health Nurses

Higher Education Articles September 29, 2013

What does a Public Health Nurse do?

A New York public health nurse has a deep understanding of the local community, its culture, and the various health and medical challenges that they face. They are interested in conditions that can affect large segments of the population, such as influenza, as well as preventative measures such as vaccinations and birth control.

Their role includes the education of and assistance to families and individuals in high-risk groups such as children and families without primary medical care.

What education, professional experience do you need to become a Public Health Nurse?

A minimum of a registered nurse (RN) license is required, and the person must be able to practice within the state. An associate or bachelor degree may be required depending on the particular employer. There may be some additional requirements that demonstrate the nurse’s ability to work in this role including:

•Demonstrate the ability to work with diverse cultures with a sensitivity toward their unique needs
•Demonstrate the ability to work with homeless, low-income and under-served individuals and families
•Demonstrate a passion for education and the ability to come up with creative solutions with available resources
•Demonstrate the ability to speak the languages of the community, such as English and Spanish, should that be required

New York: Challenges a Public Health Nurse may face

In the US, nearly 20 million people are served by 1,200 community health facilities. The recipients of this assistance are often low-income, uninsured and without primary medical care. The quality of care, given out at these centers, is monitored by the federal government.

The current status of care given for various populations, in New York, is displayed in the following chart. This information comes from a 2010 survey done by the National Association of Public Health Centers.

New York: Community Health Center Basics

Number of federally-supported health centers 536
Total Patients 1,417,414
Seasonal Farm worker Patients 17,546
Homeless Patients 102,819

Name of State: Community Health Center Clientele Data

Category Health Care Center Population State Population U.S. Population
Percent at or Below 100% of Poverty 69% 22% 21%
Percent at or Below 200% of Poverty 88% 40% 40%
Percent Uninsured 26% 15% 16%

New York: Health Challenges

In several areas, New York public health centers perform at a higher level of care than the US national average. These areas include Diabetes Control, Timely Prenatal Care, Hypertension (Blood Pressure) Control, Childhood Immunization and Cervical Cancer Screening. While these are important family services, there are a couple areas that fall below the national average: Low Birth Weight and Asthma Therapy. It should be noted that some of the higher performing services are as much as 10% more effective than the national average, but the two lower areas are slightly below average.

New York: 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 York 76.16% 76.20% 64.35% 7.20% 44.94% 62.14% 65.15%
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

The US Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that registered nurses (RN) earn a median annual salary of $64,690. This can vary significantly based on location and level of responsibility. Public health nurses can expect a typical salary to be $51,000 per year. The demand for nurses is expected to increase by 26% from the year 2010 to 2020.

The demand is due to a greater awareness of health and health-related issues, the availability of care to more segments of the population, an increase in the life expectancy, and improvements in diagnostic, testing and treatment techniques.

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