Community Health Nurse
A Community Health Nurse (CHN) is a registered nurse (RN) who specialize in promoting health for diverse communities, infants, children, adolescents and adults. One of the primary roles 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.
CHNs develop intervention plans to address the health, safety, and quality of life needs of individuals and communities. They may also identify health concerns that impact a specific population, conduct community assessments to identify potential problems, and develop or implement health education programs.
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Importance of Community Health Nurses
Community health nursing is a vital part of the healthcare system. The CDC reports that 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. suffer from health problems that originate from chronic conditions and diseases acquired in the community, such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer. By working within the community, CHNs provide services for these conditions while helping to educate people on how best to prevent them.
The work of CHNs is particularly important in rural areas, medically underserved populations, and economically disadvantaged communities. Many people in these areas lack access to affordable healthcare options and the educational support to help them maintain good health. CHNs help fill this void by providing care to the poor, uninsured, and those with low health literacy.
What Does a Community Health Nurse Do?
In addition to the traditional role of providing direct patient care in a clinical setting, Community Health Nurses (CHNs) work to educate and empower individuals and groups to take responsibility for managing their health. They often serve as public education resources about specific diseases or conditions, like the importance of breast cancer screening or the dangers of smoking.
CHNs collaborate with other health professionals, educators, and members of the community to plan and implement community-level public health initiatives that address social determinants of health. These nurses serve as an important resource for families, educators, and patients, and help bring about a better understanding of community health issues.
Community Health Nurse Job Description
Some of the activities CHNs are involved in include:
- Educating communities about healthy lifestyles and disease prevention. This includes teaching people how to
- Providing in-home treatment and support services to individuals and families who need them. This can include blood pressure monitoring, pain management, medication administration, and wound care.
- Performing free health screenings for common diseases, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol
- Conducting health assessments to identify risk factors for chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease
- Counseling people who are at increased risk of illness or injury about how to take precautions to prevent illness, including performing screenings that lead to early detection of disease
- Describing how insurance works and helping uninsured or underinsured people gain access to healthcare services
- Participating in community outreach by distributing public health information at schools, churches, workplaces, and other community settings.
Where Do Community Health Nurses Work?
The daily duties of community health nurses depend on factors like location (rural or urban) and population served (children, adults, or seniors). Community Health Nurses work in a variety of settings such as healthcare clinics and hospitals, physician’s offices, community agencies, and other facilities that provide healthcare services to people in the community. You may also find community health nurses in places such as:
- Nursing Homes and Retirement Communities
- Community Centers
- Homeless Shelters
- Veterans’ Facilities
- Outpatient and Inpatient Settings
Community Health Nurse Roles
There are many subfields of community health nursing, including public health, school nursing, women’s health, occupational health nursing, and pediatric nursing. Nurses in these areas have their own focus within community health nursing, but they all play a part in preventing illness and improving healthcare for the community.
CHNs often specialize in one or more of the following roles:
- School Nurse
- Behavioral Health Specialist
- Public Health Nurse Practitioner
- Occupational Health Nurse
- Women’s Health Nurse
- Pediatric Nurse
- Clinical Research Nurse
School nurses have a unique focus that makes them one of the most recognizable types of community health nurses. Their primary focus is the health and safety of a school community, in addition to managing healthcare emergencies in school setting. The role is important in ensuring that children are protected from infectious diseases, have access to appropriate healthcare services in the event of injury or illness, and receive education about healthy lifestyle choices.
Behavioral Health Specialist
Mental illness is often stigmatized, but it can affect anyone at any time. Community health nurses who specialize in behavioral health work closely with individuals to assess their mental and emotional states to identify possible issues related to depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses .
Behavioral health specialists are trained to provide mental healthcare services in schools, homes, or other community settings. They are often hired by schools that have a high population of children who face emotional, behavioral, or mental challenges. Their role involves teaching parents and teachers how best to support the child’s needs, implementing behavior management techniques at home and school, providing support during psychiatric emergencies, and helping coordinate healthcare services.
Public Health Nurse Practitioner
A Public Health Nurse Practitioner (PHNP) provides healthcare services aimed at preventing disease and promoting wellness for entire communities. Public health nurse practitioners often work in outpatient settings, where they diagnose and treat illnesses or injuries that may be common in a specific population.
PHNPs are also trained to work as part of community outreach programs, such as those that educate populations about preventative care or promote healthy habits for a better quality of life.
Occupational Health Nurse
Occupational health nurses promote public health by reducing hazards in the workplace. They may work with employers to create healthy office spaces, conduct training for new employees to decrease injuries or risks, advise healthcare professionals about preventative services, or analyze injury reports for patterns that could indicate a safety issue.
Women’s Health Nurse
Women’s health nurses often work in clinics and other facilities that provide healthcare services to women, either as a primary medical provider or as part of a team. Women’s health nurses may specialize in reproductive care, gynecology, and other health issues that primarily affect women. They are often trained to provide family planning services, gynecological exams, and other basic services for women of all ages.
A pediatric nurse works with children to promote healthy growth and development. They may work in the maternity ward of a hospital, an outpatient clinic, or be employed by schools as part of the school health staff. Pediatric nurses provide care for children from birth to adolescence, including providing care during physical exams and treating minor injuries or illnesses. They also educate children about disease prevention, nutrition, and other lifestyle behaviors that can help them stay healthy.
Clinical Research Nurse
Clinical research nurses are the link between healthcare providers and clinical trial researchers. They recruit study participants, work with patients through every step of trial process, maintain patient records, and help make sure that clinical trials run smoothly to collect reliable data for use in research studies. They are often employed by hospitals, clinics, or academic institutions.
Community Health Nurse Certification
Registered nurses who are actively involved in the community are eligible to become certified as a Community Health Nurse (CHN). A certification in Community Health Nursing is available through the American Nurses Credentialing Center and is awarded to nurses who meet specific requirements.
Nurses who have earned this type of certification are prepared to work across disciplines, focusing on promoting health and wellness within communities. Nurses who hold this professional credential are recognized as leaders in the field of community health, which improves their professional status and chances for career growth and advancement.
Community Health Nurse Salary
Community health nursing is an area of specialization for registered nurses (RNs), which means that their salaries are generally similar to that of other RNs. According to employment and wage data published by the
Community Health Resources
- National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
- Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- National Association of County and City Health Officials
- National Rural Health Association
- Association of Community Health Nursing Educators (ACHNE)
- Association of Public Health Nurses
- Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations
- American Public Health Association
Community Health Nurse FAQ
What is the difference between a community health nurse and a public health nurse?
What qualifications do I need to be a community health nurse?
What are the qualities of a community health nurse?
What makes a good community health nurse