Nursing Student wanting to go into Community Health...advice?

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    Hello everyone!

    I will be a soon to be nursing student in just a few months, and have just had the lightbulb moment of what kind of nurse I want to be!

    I have always been interested in young women's health, sexual education, prevention, counseling, and community involvement.
    I have volunteered at a hospital for a year in such departments as ICU, med-surge, ER and L&D, where I thougt I would fid my niche in L&D, but did not. I'm more interested in young women/teens and helping them before they get pregnant.

    What do I do from here? I will graduate with an ASN, and am also trying for a scholarship which will lock me into a 2yr contract at that same hospital if I'm chosen as well.
    However, after my ASN...what do I further my career goals on? Majoring in Community health? Womens health? Do I need a BSN? I would ultimately like to ubtain a MSN and perhaps become a NP is something like a Planned Parenthood?

    Any suggestions? I'm very excited about thsi lightbulb moment! I always knew what I enjoyed, but never knew what it was called. I also plan on trying to see if I can volunteer/intern at local organizations or planned parenthoods over the next few years as well.

    Thank you for the advice,

    -Samantha
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  3. 15 Comments so far...

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    I think it might be useful to do some hospital floor nursing just to get started so that you can 1) get your feet under you in nursing, become more independent in your practice, learn more and 2) be able to get a job in community health. Hospital peds or oncology would have a lot of young people. And, honestly, so will L&D. I had a friend in nursing school who did a women's health fellowship her first year out of school. They did rotations in medicine, L&D, and postpartum. Maybe student health would be a good place to start once you have a little experience. Or even school health for younger kids. I did a rotation during nursing school in a school-based health clinic at a middle school. It was awesome! But, because that is a very independent nursing role, you'll need to have a good general nursing foundation first. Good luck! I know what it's like to "figure it all out" and it is a great feeling!
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    I work in the nurse family partnership program. It is a nation wide nurse home visitor program that does education for first time moms. We teach health, parenting, do life coaching and general mentoring for these mostly teenage moms. It's a lot of fun. www.nursefamilypartnership.org
    hotflashion and Enfermera85 like this.
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    Hey there, like the OP, I would also like to work in community health. The thought of working in the hospital for 2-3 years to gain "experience" is common new nurse sense, but ...I want to try to avoid it if possible!

    My ideal job would be to work in a large outpatient clinic and be able to do work in epidemiology.

    However, given the job climate nowadays, I am not sure where to turn for my first job experience. I have considered nursing home as a good entry to the community medicine field. Most places don't seem to hire w/o experience. Working in primary care setting for the hospital experience as this would be a good segway to community health as well, but I haven't seen very many posting for these positions!
    Last edit by fayemotuy on May 18, '10
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    Quote from fayemotuy
    However, given the job climate nowadays, I am not sure where to turn for my first job experience. I have considered nursing home as a good entry to the community medicine field. Most places don't seem to hire w/o experience. Working in primary care setting for the hospital experience as this would be a good segway to community health as well, but I haven't seen very many posting for these positions!
    What about something like a pulmonary and/or communicable diseases type floor-- you'd learn a lot about TB, HIV, etc. Or peds. I'd think about what population you most want to work with-- women, children, adults, geriatrics-- and see if you can find a position focused on that population group.
  8. 0
    Quote from heatheryk
    I work in the nurse family partnership program. It is a nation wide nurse home visitor program that does education for first time moms. We teach health, parenting, do life coaching and general mentoring for these mostly teenage moms. It's a lot of fun. www.nursefamilypartnership.org
    I wish I could do something like this!!! I checked out the website but nothing available in my state This seems like a great job how did you find out about this position?
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    I agree that it is a good idea to work in hospital/clinical setting to build clinical skills.....however.....it sounds like you should consider working in a local public health agency...you know....a health department. We offer immunization clinic, STD testing and treatment, education, communicable disease investigation. There are lots of opportunities to teach...that is for sure! Good luck.
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    You will need a BSN to work in community health. In my state there is a public health nurse certificate that one can obtain in addition to their RN license. As far as I know, only two universities offer this option. I also would suggest that you consider minoring in health science. That was my minor while in a BSN program as I intended to continue on with a MPH. I was told that a MPH is essential to teach in this area and you would be advancing your career to get a MPH after your BSN if you want to stay in the community health area. Good luck.
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    Well, that shows that it does vary from state to state. I am the senior Communicable Disease RN here at my health dept. and I have my associates=RN. We have a NP that runs the STD clinic with an associates/RN under her. The RN's that do daycare classes etc are a mix of BSN and associate degrees. So you need to check with your health departments to see what education is required.
    serenitylove14 likes this.
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    Thanks for the information.

    I am more motivated to finish school knowing that I have options to work in community health post-grad.
    Squirt 2008, did you have to work in the hospital initially before getting hired by the health department?

    After 10 months of school, I am even more doubtful that I will thrive in bed side nursing!! I am really passionate about public health and social policy instead and was hoping that getting a BSN will better prepare for an MPH later. The community health class we took at school was less than stellar but the concepts that were introduced (disease prevention, environmental health, disaster management) are EXACTLY what I would like to learn more about!


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