Sexual Health Nurse

by capybara123 capybara123 (New) New


I am a new grad working on a general medicine floor but am interested in primary care/ public health as a sexual health nurse possibly.

Any advice on steps I can make towards this career goal would be great


Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 29 years experience. 2 Articles; 4,012 Posts

Is this a new specialty?

Dr Ruth, where are you? She would be your best resource.!



148 Posts

Hi Capybara123!

You can work with sexual health in a public health capacity. Many local county or regional health departments offer STD testing and treatment services, and nurses usually work within or manage those programs. Depending where you are, the local health department may also do birth control services through Title X funding, or more robust HIV testing, referral, or treatment as well. This is basically the core of my job function, along with immunizations, communicable disease control, and community engagement. Feel free to message me if you'd like to continue the conversation.



32 Posts

I’m a little late to this question but Yes, it exists! I am a family planning/STD nurse for the state. We work in an expanded role-meaning we operate on standing orders so we can dispense birth control, test and treat for STD’s, do Pap smears, pelvic exams, pregnancy test verifications for WIC/Medicaid, and lots and lots of education. I definitely recommend having a good year of med surg experience and time management skills. A typical day for me is seeing around 10-14 patients a day, mixed in with returning phone calls, contacting patients with positive labs and arranging for them to come in for treatment, keeping the clinic clean and the lab in working order, and doing whatever else needs to be done. One thing to be highly aware of in this field are cultural differences-what might not be socially acceptable to me or you is totally normal for someone else. Having multiple kids before the age of 20 is totally normal and acceptable in some circles and you can’t be judgy, you just have to educate as best you can and hope they listen. Drug addiction is another thing that I see often in my clinic. It can be difficult when you have a pregnant 18 year old come in and she’s clearly strung out on meth. Also, we provide abortion education resources to those who need them(state doesn’t do them, we just give information)-so make sure that’s a topic you’re able to have a neutral discussion on. It can be very busy but it is rewarding!

cayenne06, MSN, CNM

Specializes in Reproductive & Public Health. Has 10 years experience. 1,394 Posts

Come work with us at Planned Parenthood ❤️

Trudi Smith

Trudi Smith, RN

Specializes in Ortho-trauma 2 yrs; Med-tele 1 yr; STD 1 yr. Has 7 years experience. 3 Posts

I've been an STD nurse for a little over a year now. I love it. I appreciate the previous comment about being aware of the challenges of your population like having multiple kids and baby daddies/mommies and being very young or having addiction problems. It is very eye opening but can be draining sometimes. At times I feel like a social worker and a counselor as much as a nurse. But I actually wanted to be a counselor before I decided on nursing so that appeals to me. I have my own exam room and take care of the patient from start to finish. I do the health interview, the physical exam, draw blood, do vaginal/penile/extra-genital swabs, administer meds, and do as much education as the patient can tolerate. People have such complicated feelings about sex and lots of misinformation so it makes my day to be able to put them at ease and give them accurate, relevant guidance on how to "do sex" safely. If your focus is on "saving" lives, the hospital might be a good fit. If you're more interested in helping others live a higher quality of life, I think public health fits the bill. Good luck


a_lee, BSN

Specializes in primary care. 7 Posts

I’m hoping some of you experienced sexual & reproductive health nurses could give some guidance as to good certification, training or Continuing Education to prepare for this work? I’m a relatively new grad working in primary care triage and my work supports me focusing on sexual, reproductive and gender affirming nursing- now I just need to find the training for it!  Also- how in depth are your physical assessments? Do you do pelvic exams? Still trying to figure out the muddy waters of scope of RN practice in my state (Oregon). @Trudy Smith @cayenne06  @LittleLiz8235 @SiwanRN