Public health nursing is a field of specialization focused upon ensuring the health of entire populations, which requires expertise in nursing and social sciences. Public health nurses may focus on immunizations, infection control, environmental health, or urgent public health issues, such as emerging infectious diseases or opioid abuse. Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP, degree can allow nurses to gain the information they need to practice within this area.
DNP in Public Health Nursing Programs
Those planning to earn a DNP will need to be aware of entrance requirements for their desired program. Candidates must either possess a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN), or a bachelor's degree with RN licensure. Those seeking admission will typically be required to submit transcripts, recommendations, and proof of licensure to enter the program; a scholarly writing sample may be required as well. Prior clinical experience can be helpful in gaining admission.
A DNP in public health nursing program can typically be completed in four to five years of full-time study, and candidates who possess a master of science in nursing (MSN) or who are advanced practice nurses may qualify for advanced standing. Some programs will confer a DNP and MPH (Master of Public Health) upon completion. Common courses may include epidemiology, evidence-based practice, environmental health, and health disparities. A practicum or other clinical experience in community nursing will help DNP students to apply their skills in a practical setting. Certification as an advanced public health nurse is available via portfolio by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Online options are available for completing the DNP.
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DNP in Public Health Nursing Career Options
Earning a DNP in Public Health Nursing prepares graduates for a wide range of careers in this field. Graduates find opportunities at hospitals, public health clinics, non-profit organizations, and federal and state governmental agencies.
Health Policy Analyst
A health policy analyst works for the government, non-profit institutions, or lobbying firms to evaluate public policies related to health care. The health policy analyst will gather and evaluate data to predict the outcome of health-related policies. They may write reports on their findings, or give presentations to professional groups or to the public. The median salary for a health policy analyst is $59,810 as per PayScale.com (2018).
One option, particularly for those who earn a dual MPH/DNP degree in public health nursing, is that of an epidemiologist. These scientists analyze data in order to identify concerns in public health, and then develop public health programs and educational information in order to address any issues. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), epidemiologists have a median salary of $69,660.
Nurse educators work with nursing students to provide instruction in the care of patients through clinical instruction. They discuss students' progress with hospital staff and assess their performance. The median salary for nurse educators is $71,260, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017).
Population Health Manager
Population health management identifies various conditions and factors which may influence the health of populations and develops plans to address any arising concerns. Population health management can improve care for chronic diseases and close gaps in care. According to PayScale.com (2018), the median salary for a population health manager is $75,291.
Clinical Nurse Manager
Graduates of DNP programs are prepared for nurse leadership roles within hospitals, community clinics, or schools. One option is to work as a clinical nurse manager. These nurses coordinate the schedules and training of other nurses and work with other hospital management to assure policies are in place to promote patient care. According to PayScale.com, the median salary of a clinical nurse manager in 2018 is $80,421.
Director of Managed Care
Directors of managed care work within hospitals and other health-care facilities. They develop and maintain contracts with managed health providers, maintain health care files, and ensure that all managed health care activities comply with state and federal law. According to PayScale.com, the median salary of a director of managed care is $111,653.
The DNP in public health nursing offers its graduates a variety of leadership roles within the health care industry. Graduates can expect to encounter professional challenges while protecting the health of communities.