How to Get Into Community Health Nursing
For any nurses feeling burnt out or considering leaving nursing, becoming a community health nurse may be a good option! Community health nursing allows nurses to step away from the demands of the acute-care setting while still practicing their beloved profession.
What is Community Health Nursing?
Community Health Nursing can be broken down into two categories:
- Community-oriented nursing practice - The nurse provides healthcare through community diagnosis and investigation of significant health and environmental problems, health surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation of community and health status to prevent disease and disability and promote, protect, and maintain health.
- Community-based nursing practice - The nurse works in a specific setting, providing care for clients and families where they live, work, and attend school. Community-based nursing emphasizes acute and chronic care and the delivery of comprehensive, coordinated, and continuous services.
How to Become a Community Health Nurse
The most common degree for Community Health Nurses is a bachelor’s degree 54% of Community Health Nurses earn that degree. A close second is Associate Degree with 28% and rounding it off is master’s degree with 10%.
What is the Community Health Nurse salary?
The average community health nurse’s salary is $56,000 per year. New York, New Jersey, and Oregon are slightly higher at $81,674, $78,834, and $77,189, respectively.
Where Do Community Health Nurses Work?
There are over 29,814 Community Health Nurses currently employed in the United States that work in a variety of settings. Here are three examples of roles that utilize community health nurses.
Home Health Nursing
Many healthcare companies utilize home health nurses, including health departments, hospices, insurance companies, and home health companies.
Home health nurses provide care to patients in their own homes, including developing care plans, monitoring their health, treating wounds, performing tests and procedures, administering medication, and communicating with the health care provider as needed.
Home health nurses earn around $35 per hour. Special skills or certifications, like wound care certification, may earn higher. Some companies pay per assessment, anywhere from $50 to $175.
School Health Nurse
School health nurses’ triage urgent symptoms, administer medications, administer enteral feeds, and support students with social, emotional, or mental health concerns. They also help organize school health fairs, maintain students’ vaccination records, & take the lead in health promotion. During the height of COVID, school nurses also tested, performed contact testing, and enforced quarantine protocols.
School health nurses earn around $31.06 per hour. Agency nurses may make $5 - $10 more than staff nurses.
Primary Care Nurses
A primary care nurse it works in a primary health care setting. Primary care nurses triage patients, schedule appointments, perform assessments, perform tests, administer vaccinations and medications, manage patient records, and follow up with patients’ concerns, results, and questions.
Primary care nurses earn around $50 per hour.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Becoming a Community Health Nurse?
- Rarely deal with emergent situations.
- Have more time to cultivate a trusting relationship with their patients
- Usually, work shorter shifts compared to the hospital and are off on holidays
- May be able to work remotely
- Some assignments, such as hospice, may require nurses to be on call.
- Some assignments can be in dangerous areas.
- Patients and families tend to rely heavily on the community health nurse, so it is essential to empower patients early on.
What is the Job Outlook for Community Health Nurses?
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics report an employment growth of 17% for health educators and community health employees from 2020 to 2030. In comparison, it reports an employment growth of 9% for registered nurses for this same decade.
How Can Nurses Combat Burnout?
- Scheduling - When possible, choose a schedule that will allow for rest and self-care, and be selective in any overtime that may be requested. Take time off to enjoy the things you love to do.
- Set boundaries between work and home - Once a shift ends, it is important to “clock out” physically, emotionally, and mentally. Ruminating about the day’s events, such as patient complaints, can affect personal relationships. Be mindful and present while with family and friends. This Ask Nurse Alice podcast episode explains how to set boundaries.
- Connect with other nurses - Dozens of social media platforms and websites provide an outlet for nurses battling burnout. Connecting with fellow nurses who can understand the physical, emotional, and mental challenges can help nurses cope with stressful work conditions.
- Transition into another nursing role - Before nurses consider leaving the profession altogether, exploring other nursing careers, like community health, can also help nurses combat burnout.
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