I'm loving Community Health nursing

  1. Throughout the entirety of nursing school, I found myself feeling frustration at the heavy focus on hospital/bedside nursing. From the first day of clinicals to the last and during my time as a patient care tech in the hospital, I genuinely found no enjoyment in med-surg. I toyed with the concept of psych nursing, I found a brief interest in L&D, but none of them felt like they would be a good fit.

    I am a very new nurse (as in, I graduated with my ASN this spring/passed the NCLEX a month after). I moved states a few months after graduating and went through the process of transferring my brand-new license here.

    Recently, I started working for a community health center (FQHC, not-for-profit) that provides services to the uninsured and lower SES populations, along with a significant portion of Latino and French individuals. There is a dental and prenatal component alongside the family practice aspect (which is what I primarily work within). We give a lot of kids immunizations, do a lot of depo and some STI treatment, and work with providers, pharmacies, and insurance providers. It's a lot of paperwork, a lot of prior auths, and a lot of phone calls.

    However: this is the most fulfilled I've felt since beginning nursing school several years ago. I look forward to my job each day. The ability to work on health promotion/maintenance, screening, immunizations, etc. is right up my alley. After a multitude of doubts about becoming a nurse (most of which were influenced by the heavy-handed push towards hospital nursing), I am thrilled to have found something that fits me so well.

    I'm not sure what my purpose in posting this is... I guess just wanting to share my thoughts/feelings as a new nurse in an area that doesn't tend to get as much attention. Are there many other community health nurses on this site?
    Last edit by Brian S. on Sep 22
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   Lil Nel
    Congratulations on finding your niche. Best wishes to you.
  4. by   Everline
    I am a public health nurse and love it. I went through the similar experience of being frustrated by my nursing school's near exclusive focus on hospital nursing. (My first job in a hospital made me want to quit nursing.) I left the hospital and have had some great and not so great experiences as a nurse. I found community/public health nursing and fell in love with it. This is my niche and I hope to work in this specialty for the length of my career. I work in a health department and love the autonomy and having time to educate my patients. Although, some days are very busy, I never dread going in to work and I really love what I do. There is a reason the nurses I work with have been in public health for many years. It's a great specialty! I'm glad you love it too.
  5. by   thelittleRNwhocould
    Lil Nel - thank you! I'm already learning so much in the short time that I've been working here.

    Everline - I'm pretty sure that I'm the only person out of my graduating class (approximately 30 students) who went on to become a community health nurse - everyone else went to hospital floors, and quite a few went straight into the ICU setting. That was just never my desire, and I'm very glad that I've found a niche where I feel at home. I'm looking into taking Spanish classes so that I can better serve our patient population (we have only two translators at the moment, and they are kept extremely busy!).
  6. by   NightNerd
    Congratulations on finding work that fulfills and invigorates you! It's such an important thing to feel that what you do is important, and it sounds like you are a wonderful addition to the organization and an asset to your patients.

    I hope that I will join the community health setting at some point. I'm currently working nights at the bedside and I do like my job, but it's exhausting in more ways than one. I can see myself becoming passionate about certain public health issues and wanting to do more on that level in the coming years.
  7. by   SICUmurseCCRN
    congrats! we definitely need more nurses interested in community health. i had zero interest in community health in nursing school but it was my favorite clinical as well. best of luck to you.
  8. by   Here.I.Stand
    (((Hugs))) That's awesome. Sometimes I feel like if I didn't like critical care, I would consider public health. Thanks for sharing!
  9. by   SiwanRN
    Welcome to the dark side! Bwahaha.. *cough* I mean. Congratulations on finding your niche in the best kept secret in nursing (or that's how I feel anywah haha)! I could have written this post myself when I graduated nursing school - I knew I never wanted to work in a hospital either, and didn't. I've worked in public health since graduating and have never looked back. Job satisfaction is an important part of quality of life, and it sounds like you found it.
  10. by   BSNbeDONE
    That community health nursing course is like Folger's coffee: it wakes you up. (Or is that Maxwell House? Oh well, I'm not a coffee drinker, anyway. LOL). It was the community health course, during my BSN program, that gave me my second wind in nursing. I loved every minute of that course; it is what sent me looking for new avenues and led me to become a nurse surveyor.

    Sometimes being in acute care, we lose sight of the fact that there are actually some wonderful people living out in the community. And yes, so are some of the royal pains that we cared for in the hospital.
  11. by   umbdude
    Congrats!

    I had a very similar experience during nursing school. My favorite clinical was my community health nursing clinical. I was placed at a VNA and I went to assisted-living facilities and homes. Aside from having a wonderful clinical instructor, I loved meeting the clients at their homes. I did far more head-to-toe assessments in that clinical than any other one because we saw many patients each trip (many are elderly with multiple comorbidities). I also felt like I made the most impact there.

    When I wrote my review for the class, I lamented on how BSN programs are so focused on acute-care settings. Frankly, my vision of nursing has always been nurses working in the community, despite the fact that acute-care hospitals do play an important role.
  12. by   NurseCard
    Congrats again on finding an area of nursing and a job that you love!

    I was under the impression that Community Health Nursing is covered
    under a BSN program but not as part of an ASN program, typically. I know
    that we did not touch on community health even once during my ASN.
    I am now working with a nurse who is in a RN to BSN program and is
    doing work on Community Health.

    My mother in law worked in Public Health as a coder, and thus I've
    always had some interest in breaking into that field, but never have.
    Maybe someday.
  13. by   BedsideNurse
    I wish I could say I'm thrilled with what I do and looked forward to going in each day. I like aspects of it; I like critical care & taking care of patients at bedside, I like interacting with co workers, learning something new all the time, the stories are never boring... But it also sucks an awful lot too; ever increasing demands with less help, endless charting that takes so much time away from the patients, frequent floating, and on occasion just negative feelings/ruminating over situations that didn't run as smooth as you'd like, or giving report to somebody who is kind of a jerk to give report to, or unsavory unit politics, etc....To be honest there is as much depressing and stressful stuff as there is good, maybe even more on the depressing side, really. I like ICU better than anything else, but not because I found a utopian niche, it's just the only kind of nursing I stumbled into that I can tolerate. I wish I truly loved what I do, but when I get home I often feel pretty bummed out when I think about the course of my evening at work....Oh well, I guess. It's too late now, been in ICU too long and don't feel like going through the ropes of learning a different unit or another type of nursing. But I am jealous of people who are thrilled with what they do. They are lucky; I'm glad for them. Congrats to thelittleRNwhocould.
  14. by   BSNbeDONE
    Quote from NurseCard
    Congrats again on finding an area of nursing and a job that you love!

    I was under the impression that Community Health Nursing is covered
    under a BSN program but not as part of an ASN program, typically. I know
    that we did not touch on community health even once during my ASN.
    I am now working with a nurse who is in a RN to BSN program and is
    doing work on Community Health.

    My mother in law worked in Public Health as a coder, and thus I've
    always had some interest in breaking into that field, but never have.
    Maybe someday.
    NurseCard, I think the OP just happened upon a community nursing position after obtaining a license here. I don't see where the OP took the course unless I misread the post. I know we didn't have that course in my ASN program, either; and it certainly did not exist in my LPN program back during the dark ages.

    However, if not before, I foresee a motivation here to pursue the BSN soon.

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