Interested in a career that is dedicated to the health and well-being of the community you serve? Then you may be interested in becoming a community nurse! From educating others on disease prevention to providing clinical care, your efforts will help your community combat common and chronic health problems.
What is Unique About a Community Health Nurse Role?
As a community health nurse — sometimes called population or public health nurses — your role is to provide access to healthcare for the community at large, not just those that seek care in a medical facility. These nurses take healthcare to the people by traveling to neighborhoods with prevention and education efforts, as well offering on-location services specifically designed for those who may not be otherwise able to afford medical care. Serving those in need is the heart of community health nursing.
In this career, your job will include identifying and addressing poor self-care to help your patients lower their health risks as you work to decrease the number of visits to hospitals, ERs and doctors’ offices in the community. This will require a broad knowledge of preventable issues stemming from diet, sexual practices, substance abuse, and social or domestic violence.
Your working environment will range from private homes to community centers, workplaces, clinical care sites and health-related community events. You may also be called upon to provide services during a public emergency or as part of a disaster response plan.
Is the Need for Community Health Nurses Growing?
Yes. As the average life expectancy grows and chronic illnesses increase, community health nurses play critical roles in healthcare education and delivery. Demand is very high, especially for positions that work with vulnerable populations. More information about the expected growth of this field is available through the Association of Community Health Nursing Educators (ACHNE), an organization dedicated to serving public health nursing professionals.
According to the American Nursing Association, job opportunities outside of a hospital setting represent one of the four biggest nursing trends. Nursing positions focused on the community — such as in-home care, population health, and chronic care in special facilities — are on the rise. This growth is largely due to the opportunities created in response to the Affordable Care Act and an increased focus on the consumer’s role in their own health.
What Does It Take to Be a Great Community Nurse?
First, it takes passion. Many community nurses believe they have the very best job in the world. On a daily basis, they’re rewarded by seeing the impact they make in the community. From regular interactions with community members, they know they are making a difference.
Being a community health nurse also requires seeing the big picture. Community health nurses seek to change not only individual habits, but also those of entire populations such as women, children, ethnic and cultural groups, those living with diseases like HIV/AIDS, and those with various chronic conditions. Building community education is key in affecting transformational change.
Lastly, great community nurses are curious and creative. They dig deeply to the root causes of health issues and innovate strategic plans to help prevent these problems from growing. As a community nurse, you’ll be working with healthcare delivery, and also leading interventions that address social factors such as poverty, education and institutional bias that limits access to health care. Through addressing the broader spectrum of health and wellness, you will promote social justice by striving to close the healthcare gap for vulnerable communities.
What Will My Day to Day Schedule Be Like?
Depending on your position, you can expect a wide variety of daily tasks. Most of these will fit within a scheduled “9-to-5” work day. Because you are dealing with the broader population, you will not see the scheduling and shift changes traditional clinical care nurses often experience in a hospital setting.
What Can I Expect to Earn Annually?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a health educator was $53,000 in 2016. However, your earning potential will change based on the community you work in, your individual experiences, and the position you choose.
How Will Having My RN-BSN Degree from University of Louisville Help?
University of Louisville’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) degree is designed specifically for registered nurses who want to take that next step in their career. The entry level requirements for community health educators starts with a bachelor’s degree. Earning your online nursing degree from University of Louisville will not only qualify you for these positions, but will also open the opportunity to chart further career growth and improve your lifetime earning potential.
Another exceptional benefit to pursuing your RN-BSN at UofL is previous work experience can earn you up to 30 credits toward graduation through the program’s professional portfolio – that’s a potential savings of more than $14,000 in tuition!
Learn more about UofL’s online RN-BSN degree and take that next step in your nursing career today!