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I'll graduate in December 2011 with my ADN from a community college. (I also have a bachelor's in sociology from UT Austin...i don't know if that'd help). To work as a nurse in Public Health, do you need your BSN?? While I eventually plan on getting my BSN, I need to work first and save up for it. I'm not sure if I'm wanting to do the acute care hospital setting.... I'm drawn to public health... especially in the area of Family Planning.

Thanks in advance!


Hi Mandi,

I am in the same boat as you. I've recently obtained my ADN and passed NCLEX in May '10. I also have a BA in Sociology/Social Services. I worked in social services, particularly Medicaid for the last 8 years. I thought that would make me marketable but I've come to find that it doesn't matter if you have a BA already. Everyone wants a BSN so I'm enrolled at Texas Tech RN-BSN program. I, like you, really don't care to do acute care in a hospital setting and thanks to the economy didn't get a job in one. I'm working at one to the state schools (dev. disabled/psych pop) here in Texas. Pays more than the hosp setting but hoping it won't be frowned upon cause it's not med-surg experience. I'm thinking I may just volunteer one day a week @ Harris Co. Health Dept for some experience. Best of luck to you!!


Specializes in Pediatrics, Lactation, Case Management. Has 19 years experience.

In NC, you do not need you BSN to be a PHN. I have my ASN and I am currently working in a health department as a supervisor/PHN II.


Specializes in pediatrics, public health.

It depends on the state -- in CA, you do need a BSN to work as a PHN. You should be able to look up the requirements for your state on your BRN's website -- I assume most BRNs have one these days.

Good luck!


Specializes in Peds general and ICU/Comm. Disease RN. Has 20 years experience.

In MO a BSN is not required to work in Public Health. I have been a RN for over 20 years, I worked 15 in hospital setting. I am grateful for the clinical experience and I feel it helps me in what I do now (I am a communicable disease RN). I am from the school of thought that clinical experience is good to have no matter what line of nursing you want to end up in......I adore what I do now, I hope to be in Public Health until I retire. I am starting back in school in January to get my Bach. Degree in Health Management because I know I cannot advance without the degree. Best of luck to you!

Depends upon the state. Last time I looked, in CA, there were only two BSN programs that prepared the student for the PHN at graduation. I think it is a more involved process (not sure of this), to get the certificate, if a CA student doesn't graduate from one of these BSN programs.

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Job qualifications would depend upon the job description. These may vary, depending upon the scope of the job. For instance, a PH clinic position may not require a BSN because it primarily involves direct care. However, positions that require a knowldge base in epidemiology, data management, statistical analysis, etc would most likely require a BSN.

Calliotter3, I believe the schools are CSU Dominguez Hills and Northridge. I'm currently in Houston but am from California. Do you know how to go about getting just the certificate if you have a BSN from another state?

If you look on the CA BRN website there are certificate programs for nurses who have a BA in another subject. I am a ADN and got hired in public health right out of school, with the understanding that I needed to work on my BSN.