Overview of Public Health Courses for Nurses

Courses in public health nursing are generally available within a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program. Students learn how to identify potential health concerns within a community, develop an effective plan, and collaborate with the community to implement it.

Essential Information

Public health courses for nurses are usually found at the graduate level, but course availability may vary from program to program. To complete the MSN degree program, a certain number of supervised clinical practice hours are usually required. After completing the program, additional licensing or testing beyond the RN requirements may be necessary to work as a public health nurse. Coursework in the field of public health nursing may cover the following topics:

  • Community wellness and disease prevention
  • Health services development and program implementation
  • Public health problems assessment and resolutions
  • Career options in the private, public, not-for-profit, and government sectors
  • Health program design for at-risk populations

List of Common Courses

Foundational Public Health Nursing Course

This course guides students through the basic strategies and key competencies utilized in assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating effective community disease prevention and health promotion programs. Students are introduced to key public health practices and concepts through both direct observation and classroom experience. This is an early class in the MSN public health program.

Public Health Epidemiology Course

This course focuses on public healthcare issues from both environmental and social perspectives. Students may conduct comparative research on disease models within specific populations. They may also discuss theories on epidemiological principles related to risk calculations, public health screenings and community health education. This is typically an introductory course in the public health nursing program.

Community Nursing Theory and Practice Course

This class surveys the principal concepts and practices that govern the public health systems in schools and communities. Students may explore such topics as public health functionality, and the legal, ethical and public policy issues related to developing and evaluating culturally effective community health programs. This may be an intermediate course, offered in the middle portion of the public health nursing program.

Advanced Public Health Nursing Course

Students are encouraged to observe and analyze trends in community health with a focus on ethical and legal issues, specific intervention strategies, population-focused research and nursing management. Prior coursework in public health at the graduate level may be required. This class may be offered in the latter part of an MSN program in public health.

Cross-Cultural Communication Course

Students discuss the role that culture may play in effectively communicating with various community groups from a public health standpoint. Students may take part in communication skills exercises and learn effective strategies for conducting interviews and group discussions in a variety of situations. This may be either an elective or a required course, depending on the MSN program.


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