New RN, looking ahead; MPH?

  1. 0
    Hello all!

    I'm a new RN, stil in my first couple months on the floor. I'm settling in well enough, enjoying the work/coworkers (I work in med-surg/tele, this was my first choice after graduation because I wanted the experience and knowledge), and loving a professional salary, but I'm feeling like I'm at a crossroads in my life and wanted some advice.

    I know I want to be exactly where I am (med-surg/tele) right now, but over the last 6 months or so I've gradually realized my real passion in nursing and healthcare is in the preventative side of things, I want to improve the overall health of the population and keep people out of the hospital rather than help take care of them once they are already sick.

    This has been leading me to think about my career path, and while I originally thought to first pursue a BSN and then some form of advanced licensure or nursing degree (CNS or NP), I'm now starting to think the MPH is more in line with my real passion.

    Do any of you have a master's in public health, or experience in the field? what would you recommend?

    My background in a Bachelor's in social sciences (with plenty of classes in statistics) and an RN license from an ADN program. To pursue advanced nursing degrees, I would need a BSN 1st, but the bachelor's would let me jump right in to a master's program.

    My other main interests are in infection control/epidemiology (which seems to overlap with public health) and diabetes education.

    thank very much for any help you can offer, I'm a little overwhelmed by the number of options an RN license presents and I've been thinking hard about what sort of work I can feel really passionate about.
  2. 28 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    If you are passionate about preventing illness, rather than treating it, definitely go for public health. Most places require a BSN to enter, but I don't know any PH nurses with a Masters. Not sure I would bother with that route.
    SunDazed likes this.
  4. 0
    I'm actually wondering if I might want to eventually end up in an administrative/research-oriented role in public health; I learned in school I eventually want to leave bedside care (health promotion and patient education are more rewarding to me, and the fast pace of the floor unfortunately doesn't leave enough time for patient teaching), and from this perspective an MPH backed with an RN license seems like it might be a good starting point.

    I may not be a public health nurse per se, but rather be using my nursing background to help me branch out in a slightly different, but overlapping direction in healthcare.

    I'm struggling with this a little bit because I'd be almost leaving the profession of nursing behind, and while if I went down this track I wouldn't be trying to make the move for at least 3 years or so, I know being so new I don't really know my head from my ass yet and it seems like a kind of big decision.

    I'm planning on shadowing an infection control nurse at my hospital in the next week or two to try and get an idea of what that role is like, and I've been talking with a diabetes educator to try to do something similar; infection control is something that I've always found very interesting, and diabetes education has been one of my favorite parts of the job so far (the very, very small amount I have had time for; many of my patients are type 2 and seem woefully uninformed about their disease and how to manage it, I've found it really rewarding to make some time in the day to sit and talk with them some about how to improve their health and how the DM type 2 is impacting or potentiating their other health problems. I'm a diabetic, and this is something I feel passionate about).

    I'm talking to a family member who used to work at the health department in a managerial role to see about getting in touch with someone working with a MPH; from what I've heard so far, an RN background/license with an MPH may open more doors than either alone.

    I want to start moving forward with further education/training now, while my momemtum and ambition are still fresh (i'm concerned if I take too much time off I'll get busy with life and either not go back to school or delay it a long time), so I've been trying to think this out as best I can now.

    Thanks for the advice.
  5. 0
    I'm not a nurse (yet), but I do have an MPH. Like you, I have a passion for preventive health, so I've decided to combine my MPH with a BSN degree. The few PH nurses that I do know actually DO have a BSN and MPH, but they are no longer working as nurses (they have PH desk-side positions). I also have a background in infectious diseases (BS in micro, MPH focus was infectious disease epidemiology), and I have considered infection control nursing - but I keep being pulled back toward chronic disease prevention. So, I am also curious about any additional responses you receive. It looks like we have the same goals, but we're approaching them from different angles! :spin:
  6. 7
    Quote from troop949
    but they are no longer working as nurses (they have PH desk-side positions).
    Hi, I am a RN with a BSN and an MBA who has a passion for Public Health as well. I worked in PH prior to becoming a Registered Nurse. One reason I went into nursing was because I worked closely with and was heavily influenced by RNs that worked "desk-side" (this is a cute term) as well as those who provided direct patient care in PH. I'm not trying to be mean, but I am responding to your post because you are new to this field and posted a misconception of nursing.

    Nurses that do not provide direct patient care are still working as nurses unless he/she completely leaves the field of nursing. Specifically, real nursing is performed by those who are licensed as nurses to implement the duties and responsibilities of nurses. With that said, the setting of nursing varies, which means that Real Nurses are not limited to working with patients directly and/or by the bed-side. For example, one job that I am in the process of landing part-time will require a focus on affecting public health care policy. In that role I will be working as a nurse, although I will not be providing direct patient care by the bed-side.
    Everline, whslee01, bellamia1015, and 4 others like this.
  7. 0
    Your prospective new job sounds very interesting; would you be willing to elaborate on it at all? Also, what ype of work were the nurses working desk-side in public health engaged in? I would to hear any details you would be willing to share, i'm trying to get as much information as i can.

    Troop949 - it's intriguing to me you would consider going back for a BSN after already having a Micro background with an MPH; do you feel that the combination would open more doors for you or make you more marketable? So far, all of the people involved in public health i've been able to talk to have been in research-oriented disease tracking/prevention roles, which sounds extremely fascinating to me; type of work did you do prior to going back to school? Glad to meet someone else with similar interests, I will post to the thread anything I learn elsewhere. The MPH may be a little easier for me to go after (from the perspective of scheduling) with how intensive nursing school is, good luck! the programs i'm looking at are all online, so i'll be able to continue to work full time; i may be able to take several of the classes without actually being accepted into the program as well.

    Did you get your MPH in any particular specialty? Epidemiology is my principle interest at the moment, but biostatistics also sounds enjoyable.

    I had also met a nurse a while back with a master's in social work who told me that sometimes she could find work with her master's that she wanted to do, and sometimes not, but the RN always gave her access to steady employment and a good wage; this is a great comfort to me. I have several friends who recently graduated with MAster's degrees who havent been able to find work.
  8. 0
    Quote from RNuninformed
    Your prospective new job sounds very interesting; would you be willing to elaborate on it at all? Also, what ype of work were the nurses working desk-side in public health engaged in? I would to hear any details you would be willing to share, i'm trying to get as much information as i can.
    The "desk-side" nurses I worked with in the past, were nurses (RNs and NPs) that ran programs. In my experience, some PH programs are run by individuals without a professional license. However, over the past 5-10 years I have noticed a decrease in that trend. Rather RNs, NPs, PhDs, RDs (Registered Dietitians), and sometimes MDs are the ones that run most PH programs. My guess is that we are needed because licensed health care professionals can apply clinical and professional knowledge to the patient population that is being served by the program.
  9. 0
    Quote from MBARNBSN
    Nurses that do not provide direct patient care are still working as nurses unless he/she completely leaves the field of nursing. Specifically, real nursing is performed by those who are licensed as nurses to implement the duties and responsibilities of nurses. With that said, the setting of nursing varies, which means that Real Nurses are not limited to working with patients directly and/or by the bed-side.
    Thank you for the clarification. I meant no disrespect in my previous post when I made the statement about "working as nurses"; I did actually mean that they were not providing direct patient care. For whatever reason, what my brain meant and my fingers typed were not the same thing! I do understand the wide range of positions in which nurses can be employed, and I did not mean to minimize the role played by nurses who no longer provide patient care. The nurses I worked with were phenomenal, intelligent, vibrant women, and I highly respect what they did.
  10. 0
    Quote from RNuninformed
    Troop949 - it's intriguing to me you would consider going back for a BSN after already having a Micro background with an MPH; do you feel that the combination would open more doors for you or make you more marketable? So far, all of the people involved in public health i've been able to talk to have been in research-oriented disease tracking/prevention roles, which sounds extremely fascinating to me; type of work did you do prior to going back to school? Glad to meet someone else with similar interests, I will post to the thread anything I learn elsewhere. The MPH may be a little easier for me to go after (from the perspective of scheduling) with how intensive nursing school is, good luck! the programs i'm looking at are all online, so i'll be able to continue to work full time; i may be able to take several of the classes without actually being accepted into the program as well.
    I hadn't really considered "marketability"; I've always had a desire to provide health services to people. Unfortunately, as an epidemiologist, I wasn't able to do that - it was very much a desk job! Interesting work, mind you, but I was becoming bored with it. I *heart* infectious diseases (LOL), and I did do some work as an ID epi. Not anything like you see in the movies "Outbreak" or "Contagion"; mostly data analysis of systems hospitals/health depts. use to report notifiable diseases to CDC.

    I'm a little torn, though, because I also have experience in surveillance of chronic diseases and developed a strong desire to work in health promotion because of that. So, I'm going back and forth about whether I want to be an infectious disease nurse or a public health nurse!:spin:

    Quote from RNuninformed
    Did you get your MPH in any particular specialty? Epidemiology is my principle interest at the moment, but biostatistics also sounds enjoyable.
    My focus was epidemiology (with a concentration in infectious disease epi). Lots of stats, obviously, but it was very interesting! A few of my friends got their MPH degrees in biostats.

    Quote from RNuninformed
    I had also met a nurse a while back with a master's in social work who told me that sometimes she could find work with her master's that she wanted to do, and sometimes not, but the RN always gave her access to steady employment and a good wage; this is a great comfort to me. I have several friends who recently graduated with MAster's degrees who havent been able to find work.
    I had a HARD time finding work right out of school with my MPH. Most PH jobs are associated with state/local/Federal government, and there were hiring freezes across the board after I graduated. I wound up working in retail for several months after I graduated, LOL. The microbiology degree wasn't exactly marketable, either. I think the combination of an RN and MPH will make you a more viable candidate; you could certainly find gov't work, but it would depend on how well the Feds are funding PH positions at the time. As MBARNBSN stated, PH departments utilize RN/MPHs to direct many health promotion/disease prevention programs - however, you'd likely need years of RN experience to bag a position like that. All that said, I'm not 100% sure of where I'll land once I get my BSN, but I'm going to be optimistic. I am keeping my options open.
  11. 0
    Hey All! This is a question for everyone
    I have an MPH (undergrad in Biology), have been working in the field since I graduated in 2010. But have this burning desire to get an ASN or BSN. My thing is, I love the field of maternal/child health and adolescent health. I seem myself doing program development, health education, maybe some international working, and I am working on developing my own program.

    Anyway, my question is BSN or ASN? Then or ASN-BSN?

    What would you do, and why??


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