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Need Advice from Public Health Nurses


Has 1 years experience.


Hope this is the right place to post this. I’m in some need of career advice.

I just graduated this May and am currently employed as a psych RN at a state psych hospital. I also previously worked as a psych tech at another facility while I was in school. When I started as a tech, I was passionate about providing care to the mentally ill due to my own history with mental illness. I found it easy to empathize with my patients, I developed strong therapeutic communication skills, and I always left each shift feeling like our care team had made a positive impact on at least one patient. Now, however, I feel burned out. The verbal abuse and physical assaults, overuse of mechanical restraints, and lack of opportunities for therapeutic interaction between nurses and patients have me dreading each shift. My current job has also catalyzed the return of my own mental illness. I’m seeking treatment and am confident that I’ll manage, but I feel like I need to leave psych nursing. I know it isn't ideal, being as fresh out of school as I am, but it needs to happen.

I’d like to pursue public health nursing as I feel it’ll provide me with an opportunity to use my strong communication skills. I also previously worked in healthcare communications, so I think I’ll feel at home providing health education, promoting health prevention, etc. However, I have no specific experience in public or community health and feel like I’m at a disadvantage when applying to public health jobs because 1) most open public health RN positions in my area list 1-3 years of experience as preferred and 2) I don’t have school-based public health experiences (such as clubs, societies, etc.) that other new grads may have.

So how can I gain experience in public health to make me a more competitive applicant? Are there any volunteer experiences of which I should be aware? Any associations I should join? What common skills used in public health should I be reviewing/practicing? And do you have any other advice for someone looking to break into the field?


Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

Where I live, our public health nurses are employed in a multitude of capacities, from nurse navigator positions to working in the clinics and in our mobile homeless care units and more. I would suggest you begin by identifying a safety net hospital in your area and looking at the programs they have. Then get on their job board and see what is out there. These positions lack the "glamour" of acute care and can often by overlooked by new graduate nurses, but it is a reasonable career path to something that may be a good fit for you.

Good luck!

have you gotten your public health certificate? I am also a new grad. my public health certificate is pending, but they contacted me for an interview and I don't have public health experience.