Today, we’re starting at the end. Imagine yourself with the most competitive and prestigious credentials for Public Health Nurse jobs: an advanced, Public Health Nurse certification. A Public Health Nurse a type of RN that cares not just for individuals, but for larger populations – educating groups about healthcare, providing care to communities in need, and preventing disease and illness across populations.
To become a certified Public Health Nurse today, you will need several years of education and experience in the field. However, if you’ve started on your career as a registered nurse, the good news is that you’re already on your way!
The Public Health Nurse certification, historically, was offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. While only up for renewal at this point in time, there are ways in which you can still earn the certification and title as a certified Public Health Nurse. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), you can pursue your Public Health certification from the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE), after earning an advanced nursing degree.
Set your sights high, and gauge the distance between your current nurse status and your goals, by understanding all of the requirements needed to become a certified Public Health Nurse. From nursing experience to a BSN and MSN degree, we’ll outline the various requisites here – telling you how, and why, you’ll have to fulfill each of them.
- Earn your BSN
As you may know, Bachelor’s of Nursing (BSN) degrees help nurses take a huge professional step beyond the foundations of nursing. Many nurses begin with a Practical Nursing degree (LPN), gaining valuable experience at the early stage in their careers, before moving into the territory of an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN). With each level of study, the responsibility level of plausible roles, and your potential salary, will increase. LPNs often work in senior centers and home healthcare. Registered Nurses (those with an ADN or BSN) qualify for more advanced roles, such as in an ER. A BSN degree is necessary for even higher roles, such as a Military Nurse, Psychiatric Nurse, or Neonatal Nurse. You’ll need your BSN degree in order to sit for the Public Health Nurse certification. If you already have your RN license, you can opt for a fast-paced, RN-to-BSN program.
- An RN Licensure
It is a standard requirement that all practicing nurses must obtain their Registered Nurse (RN) license in order to provide patient care. This is obtained through the NCLEX-RN examination. Additionally, since a 2010 Institute of Medicine initiative set the goal of an 80% BSN-certified nurse workforce by 2020, hospitals are beginning to hire more BSN graduates. You won’t be qualified to work at most healthcare institutions without acquiring the hospital’s preferred credentials. Your BSN and RN license go hand in hand, in order to practice nursing to the fullest potential at this level.
- Years of full-time RN or Public Health Nursing practice
After earning your BSN and your RN license, this step follows a natural order. You’ll be ready to put your skills to good use! Earning a great salary (that the BLS averages at $70k annually), exercising your talents, and learning from your managers and administration – full-time practice as an RN is truly fulfilling. The NBPHE requires five full years in public health work plus a Bachelor’s degree, or a graduate degree from an accredited program, to qualify for certification in Public Health. After, or during, these years of work and educational experience, you’ll be ready to continue on your path. Onto Step #4!
- An MSN or another public health graduate-level degree
It is recommended that you obtain a degree at the graduate level before pursuing the Public Health Nurse certification. An MSN was required of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Public Health Nursing certification, while the NBPHE certification requirements suggest a doctorate or master’s degree in Public Health, from a school accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.
A Master’s of Nursing program, or MSN program, that highlights public health nursing studies a great route to meet this milestone. Goodwin’s population health focused MSN, for example, dives into the weeds of social justice in the greater healthcare system, with a curriculum that addresses access and quality of care, community health promotion, and disease prevention in a variety of populations. The program also focuses on flexibility for students, offering the ability to accomplish your MSN in public health nursing in as few as 20 months, part-time, and even online.
- 30 hours of advanced public health nursing courses
The American Nurses Credentialing Center traditionally required 30 credit hours for their Public Health Nurse certification. This can help to prove that your MSN degree, or your public health graduate-level degree, has covered enough content relevant to becoming a Public Health Nurse at the advanced level. You won’t have a problem fulfilling this requirement with a public health focused MSN curriculum.
- Bonus Step: Accomplish professional development, through areas such as Presentations, Publications or Research, Additional Academic Credits, Professional Service, or Preceptorship.
It’s an expectation of professionals to engage in continuing studies. Nurses need to keep their skills current with technological advances, state and national legislative changes, and clinical breakthroughs. The American Nursing Association makes it simple for you to keep your skills sharp, by collecting resources for opportunities like workshops, webinars, and more.
Applying for speaking opportunities at conferences, or submitting writing to healthcare publication journals, is a great way to share your research and skills with the broader public health community, and to network with other professionals and leaders in your field. Lastly, taking a Preceptor role at a hospital puts you in the position of a nurse educator. This is a great way to have a special impact on rising novice nurses. Share your experience, and strengthen the next generation.
The road to your Public Health Nurse certification has already started. As noted by the AACN, “In numerous cases, RN licensing is the only legal requirement for public health nursing practice.” However, those with Baccalaureate and Master’s level public health training can often pursue voluntary certifications through the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the National Board of Public Health Examiners, when available. Those with BSN and MSN degrees are also positioned for more advanced roles within the field of Public Health Nursing today, and those with the highest-level degree are likely to be preferred by employers. With an MSN degree that’s offered entirely online, and that can be completed in less than two years’ time, why wait?
If you would like to learn more about Goodwin College’s public health focused MSN program, please do not hesitate to call 800-889-3282 or visit us online today.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.