Public Health vs Community Health,

Nurses General Nursing


Public Health vs Community Health; what's the difference?

I was perusing a site and it listed nursing specialities with the two aforementioned ones. Is there a difference and if so what?

Specializes in Emergency Room.

sometimes the two are used interchangably. community health centers around an aggregate population in a community. the focus is usually on how that aggregate affects that community such as a high incidence of AIDS in one community and diabetes or lead poisoning in another community. public health focuses on the general health of the total population in a state such as water contamination, public eating areas, safe parks etc... anything that can affect the general public. i hope this helps.

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

In our community health classes we were taught that community health deals more directly with people in a specific community; home health, clinics,health departments that offer immunizations, health fairs, school programs fall into that.

Public health is broader like stated above and tends to be more administrative/political in nature. Lobbying for better conditions, laws that improve the general state of health and well-being of populations.


107 Posts

Thank you very much.

Quickbeam, BSN, RN

1,011 Posts

Specializes in Government.

Just wanted to post on this...I am a community health nurse. My job is a "nursing for populations" role. I plan programs and policy for my state's 4 million drivers; I oversee older and health impaired driver issues. I do community presentations and education, case management and consulting. In my area, the public health nurses have a much narrower focus to their job...maybe a specific health issue in a specific town. I serve my whole state and am in more of a policy-making position.


86 Posts

quick beam--goodness, you must be busy! do you mind me asking how someone would get into a position like that?

Quickbeam, BSN, RN

1,011 Posts

Specializes in Government.

I actually just stumbled over the posting on my state job listing site. I didn't know anyone or have any special connections. I did have an odd set of skills (extensive public speaking background, occupational health, industrial hygiene, etc) that made me a good candidate. I also had a pre-RN career in judicial/legal work which was a plus.

When you have a job with such scope, you have to figure out what you can do and what you need others to do. Public speaking is easy for me so I do about 40-50 events a year. However, when I was getting innundated with requests re: dementia and driving, I trained volunteers from the Alzheimer's Association how to do my speech and sent them out to do what I couldn't.

I always say, never give up on nursing, there is an odd job for everyone! I love my position and it came at a time I was no longer able to physically hack hospital nursing. It was a small paycut from other nursing jobs. However, with no holidays, weekends, nights or on-call to work and with a great pension and 4 weeks of annual vacation, I'm a happy camper.

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