Quick Facts :
Community Care Nurse

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Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, May 2017

info-icon ADN or BSN
info-icon $73,550 Annual Wage
info-icon 15% Job Growth

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What Is a Community Health Nurse?

One of the primary functions of a community health nurse is to identify health problems in the community and to provide health care to patients who may not have access to, or be able to afford, medical services. They develop intervention plans to address the health, safety, and nutritional issues they discover, and attempt to educate their patients about healthy choices that assist with disease and illness prevention.

A public health nurse strives to promote prevention over treatment. By correcting poor health practices and maintaining a safe home or work environment, patients lower risks to their health and require fewer visits to health care facilities. The goal of a public health nursing career is to educate patients through community-based intervention programs, which identify and correct multiple health issues:

Unlike traditional nurses, community health nurses don’t worry about the health of just one person at a time, but entire communities at a time. This could include areas from small towns to entire countries – and everything in between. Although it’s a stressful job at times with massive amounts of responsibility, most community health nurses find it personally rewarding as well.

At times, certain contagious diseases and other health issues can spread throughout an entire community. This can happen in small communities, large towns, urban areas, regional areas, or even entire countries. Some examples of health issues that could affect a community include HIV, teen pregnancy, influenza, obesity, and substance abuse – just to name a few. If these community health problems are ignored, they could grow out of control and cause problems for all members of the community.

Working as a community health nurse is an excellent way to combine a love of nursing and a love of your community. It is the job of a community health nurse to help keep these community health problems under control. They often work in community health centers offering treatment and advice to members of the community. They will also try to educate the community on and work toward preventing common health problems.

Communities need these types of nurses for a number of reasons. Most importantly, these nurses – working in conjunction with other healthcare professionals – can help improve the health of a community as a whole. Community health nurses can also help provide necessary care in communities that lack easily accessible healthcare.

What Do Community Nurses Do?

Providing treatment for community members is often one of the primary duties of a community health nurse. They will often provide affordable care to community members that are ill or suffering from another health-related matter.

However, community health nurses also focus on preventing health issues from sweeping through a community. In order to do this, these nurses will often need to circulate through the community in question and interact directly with community members. Prevention methods may include handing out informational fliers on certain health issues in the community or spreading the word about common practices to avoid and prevent certain health issues. In some cases, a community health nurse may even distribute health related items or medications to help prevent certain health problems. For example, community health nurses might distribute free condoms to aid in the prevention of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, or they may administer vaccinations and immunizations to help protect people against contagious diseases.

Many community health nurses also organize programs geared toward preventing community-wide health issues. This often involves educating community members on risk factors by teaching classes or speaking at local facilities, including schools and community centers.

Community health nurses act as advocates as well. They might work to get a government-funded health facility that offers free or affordable healthcare into a community made up of primarily low-income individuals.

Research is another common community health nurse duty. These nurses are often required to perform in-depth research on certain communities in an effort to identify the root of a common health problem. This research can then be used to help pinpoint risk factor and reach out to at-risk individuals.

Where Do Community Health Nurses Work?

Like other nurses, community health nurses can often find employment in healthcare facilities like local hospitals, trauma centers, and clinics. They can also be found working in health-related government agencies and non-profit organizations, as well as community health centers and research facilities.

However, it is not uncommon for a community health nurse to travel for work. This often involves traveling to different communities or different sections of a community in order to circulate among the members.

How Do I Become a Community Health Nurse?

If you’re looking to become a community health nurse, it’s recommended that you start by becoming a registered nurse (RN). This usually involves earning a nursing degree and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). You should also have several years of nursing experience under your belt as well.

Once you’ve made the decision to become a community health nurse, you should then earn your master’s degree in community health or public health. You should also consider earning taking the Advanced Public Health Nurse certification exam, which is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Because you should have strong ties to the community you wish to work in, you should also consider participating in volunteer programs both before and after you become a community health nurse.

Additional Resources for Community Care Nurses