Public health nurse practitioners (PHNPs) focus on helping whole communities, instead of just individuals or families, to promote healthy living. PHNPs often travel to patients’ homes, schools, community centers and other sites to give presentations about pressing health issues. Part of public health nursing is to teach about healthy lifestyle choices within the home, workplace, and community.
PHNPs may educate people about the dangers of tobacco use, or provide information about healthy diet, exercise, and safe sex habits. Ensuring healthy living conditions in at-risk neighborhoods can also be part of the job description. Providing immunizations and disease testing is also within the purview of PHNPs. Some work in local government health departments, or as general practice nurses in neighborhoods, or as case managers for public services facilities.
Degree Options and Career Information
Coursework for the nurse practitioner degree with an emphasis on public health usually includes all the fundamental classes any nurse practitioner must take (physiology, chemistry, anatomy, pharmacology, health assessment, and more) in addition to labs in microbiology and public health, nutrition in health and disease, general psychology, and geriatric nursing.
Emphasis is placed on how the atmosphere of a community, it’s socio-economic background and population, affects the prevalence of certain diseases. PHNPs must become familiar with community dynamics, and will often work with one community for many years to improve health related knowledge and practices throughout the community.
- PHNP Requirements: To become a PHNP, you must earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree with an emphasis in public health nursing, and you must pass a certification exam.
- Work Environment: PHNPs typically travel a lot for work, visiting schools, community centers and neighborhoods to give presentations on health, administer vaccines, and conduct other activities aimed at improving the health of the general population. A PHNP’s focus is largely on education and preventive care.