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Public Health Nurse (PHN)

Career Highlights

  • Work with the community
  • Teach healthy living
  • Help with children's growth and development

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Career Summary

A public health nursing career presents the unique opportunity to teach a community about health and illness prevention, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Public health nurses (PHNs) work in public, private, government and non-profit agencies, delivering essential health care services and information to the public.

Public health nurses are RNs with additional training in community health, allowing them to focus on entire communities, as well as individual clients. They may work in a hospital or clinic, or travel to provide care in patients’ homes, schools and community centers. There they can assist with community health concerns such as outbreaks, or provide regular checkups and immunizations for children. They play an especially important role in rural and under-served communities.

Public Health Nurses' Work

Public health nurses' responsibilities may include:

  • Delivering essential health care services to community members
  • Arranging for and administering standard immunizations
  • Investigating communicable disease outbreaks
  • Educating on preventive care and nutrition
  • Working to develop disease prevention programs for high-risk populations
  • Participating in disaster preparedness and response

Depending on where PHNs work, they may specialize in a particular area. For example, some public health nurses work in youth clinics, while others serve only low income clients.

Other areas a Public Health Nurse may specialize in:

  • Pregnancy and birth
  • Postnatal care
  • Children's growth and development
  • Special health care needs
  • Emotional, sexual and reproductive health

Public health nurses are part of the centerpiece of every city. They help move health information forward, protecting the health of the public. Using their nursing skills, they help assess, diagnose, plan, implement and evaluate needed public health information and programs.

More information can be found via the Additional Information links below.




Public Health Nurses have a bachelor or associate degree, or a diploma from an approved nursing program, and have passed a national licensing exam. They also have additional training in community health.

Career Skills

  • Excellent judgment
  • Dependability and conscientious performance
  • Communication skills
  • High ethical standards and integrity

Additional Information

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*Salary ranges based on location, experience, and demand. This number represents a rough nation-wide average.