The public health and nursing fields have a lot in common. Both utilize education and awareness to promote better health, and both are focused on helping others in need. While registered nurses (RNs) help individual patients through direct, essential care, public health professionals work to help larger populations through policy, research, and advocacy. For nurses who are looking to make a difference at a macro level, and influence the health and wellbeing of communities, public health is a clear next step.
For this reason, many registered nurses look into advancing their education through a public health degree program. RNs with a bachelor’s in Nursing will often look towards a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) degree, to expand their knowledge in areas like infectious disease, emergency management, environmental health, epidemiology, and public health policy.
And the journey is well-worth it. Investing in an MPH can lead to high return. While registered nurses make close to $78,000 per year, those with an MPH degree have the potential to earn over $100,000 annually in the United States.
So, how do you go from an RN career to an MPH program? What does the RN to MPH career map entail? Do flexible RN to MPH programs exist? Let’s explore these questions below.
How to Go from RN to MPH in 3 Steps
1. Earn your bachelor’s degree in Nursing.
If you haven’t already, the first step in your educational journey is to pursue a bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) program. A BSN program will equip you with advanced skills and knowledge in topics like nursing research, patient advocacy, and management in the healthcare field. These are foundational courses that can set the stage for larger leadership roles in public health. They will prepare you make an impact across health care facilities, communities, and beyond.
There are several pathways to earning a BSN degree. If you are already a licensed RN, the best course of study is through an RN-to-BSN program. The RN-to-BSN is a flexible, fast-paced program that will enable you to earn your bachelor’s degree in just one year, part-time. The classes are offered entirely online, so that you can continue working as a nurse while working towards your BSN degree.
If you are new to nursing and have not yet landed the RN title, you can also pursue a traditional BSN program, taking four to five years to complete, with on-campus courses required. Alternatively, you can earn an associate in Nursing and go back to school for your RN-to-BSN degree online. Those who are new to nursing will need to successfully pass the NCLEX-RN examination, which grants you licensure to practice as a registered nurse.
2. Gain experience in nursing.
If you haven’t already, take advantage of your RN licensure. Put your nursing skills to practice and take time to build your experience in real, healthcare facilities. Working directly with patients and their families, as well as interacting with a holistic medical team, will prepare you for the ebbs and flows of an advanced public health setting. Your experience as an RN will teach you the power of effective communication in healthcare, as well as the importance of empathy and advocacy for patients and their concerns. These will be invaluable qualities that carry through to any public health career path you choose long-term.
3. Pursue an MPH program.
As long as you have a bachelor’s degree, you can apply to an MPH program at any stage of your nursing career. Experience as an RN is not required to earn an MPH. In fact, the primary requirements for an MPH program are as follows:
- Completion of a graduate school application
- A professional resume
- Transcript denoting the completion of a bachelor’s degree (from an accredited institution)
- Proof of immunizations (measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella)
- Written statement of goals
At Goodwin University, there is also no GRE or GMAT required to enroll in the MPH program, making it a highly accessible degree option for the ready and working nurse.
After acceptance into an MPH program, your next steps are straightforward: Complete the required coursework, choose an area of specialization, and gain the skills needed to succeed after graduation day. Required courses for an MPH degree will vary by school, but in general, RNs can expect to take classes in:
- Public health policy
- Global public health
- Environmental health
- Infectious disease
- Emergency management
Like nursing, public health also offers areas of specialization that you may pursue. These will also vary by institution. For RNs completing the MPH program at Goodwin, you can choose between Global Health, Community Health, or Health Policy and Management. The core required coursework above will allow you to explore each of these areas at a high-level, while the individual concentrations will allow you to delve deeper into the specialization that most interests you. This can lead to successful careers such as:
- Public Health Director
- Environmental Health Officer
- Community Health Nurse
- Public Health Traveling Nurse
Do Flexible RN to MPH Programs Exist?
As you consider pursuing an RN to MPH program, you may be seeking flexibility. If you are a working nurse especially, you’ll want to choose a program that offers multiple scheduling options and course formats. For example, do you prefer to take classes on a full- or part-time basis? Are you seeking an online RN to MPH program that you can complete on your on schedule? How quickly do you want to reach your career goals?
Goodwin’s MPH program offers complete flexibility for the working nurse, so that you do not need to sacrifice your career for your education. These benefits include:
- 100% online MPH program
- Full-time and part-time class scheduling options
- Accelerated classes that can be completed in just 12-15 months
- Six program starts per year (so you can start when you’re ready!)
While it may be difficult to find a complete RN to MPH program, you can find flexible options that will take you from your BSN degree to Master’s in Public Health quickly. At Goodwin, you can earn both of these awards entirely online. The online RN-to-BSN program is step one, and the online MPH program is step two, together providing a streamlined, two-year pathway from RN to MPH, online.
There are many reasons why an RN should consider leveling up their knowledge with an MPH degree. From increased compensation, to amplified impact in communities, the benefits of an MPH degree are great for frontrunning registered nurses. If you feel ready to take that next step up in your career and education, do not hesitate to reach out.
RNs can earn their BSN and MPH entirely online at Goodwin University. If you would like to learn more about how to start the process, you can always reach out for support. Call us at 800-889-3282 to speak with admissions, or request more information about our MPH program online here.