Public Health Nurse

Public Health Nurse exam practice

Finding a job as a Public Health Nurse in the United States involves various steps and requirements, which can differ from state to state. The hiring process typically includes education, certification, and relevant work experience, among other factors. Below are some general guidelines on how the hiring process might look for a Public Health Nurse. Please note that specific steps can vary by state, county, and even by the organization itself.


The first step is usually obtaining a nursing degree from an accredited institution. Many Public Health Nurses hold at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), although some positions may accept Registered Nurses (RNs) with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).


After completing your nursing education, you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) to become a licensed RN. Licensure requirements can differ by state.


To work specifically as a Public Health Nurse, you may need additional training or education in public health issues, which could range from immunization campaigns to infectious disease control. Some nurses obtain a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) or a similar qualification, although this isn’t always necessary.

Work Experience

Many positions require some amount of relevant work experience, particularly in a public health setting. For new graduates, internships or entry-level positions can provide this necessary experience.

Application Process

You’ll likely need to submit an application along with your résumé and cover letter. Some states and counties have their own specific application portals for healthcare jobs.


If your application is shortlisted, the next step is usually an interview process, which may consist of one or more interviews.

Background Checks and Drug Tests

Most healthcare jobs require a thorough background check and often a drug test.

Job Offer

After successfully passing all these steps, you may receive a job offer. At this point, you’ll have the opportunity to negotiate the terms of your employment.

State-Specific Requirements

Each state has its own public health priorities and hence may have unique requirements for Public Health Nurses. For example:

  • In California, you might need to be certified in public health nursing by the state.
  • In New York, additional state exams might be necessary.
  • In Texas, you may need to complete additional training programs on state-specific public health issues.

Continuing Education

Once employed, ongoing professional development and continuing education are usually required. Some states mandate a certain number of continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain your licensure.

To find out specific requirements in your state, consult the State Board of Nursing or the Department of Health for the most accurate and current information.

Public Health Nurse assessment exam

Instead of a single assessment test, public health nurses may follow a combination of steps to become qualified in their field, including:

Here are some certifications and exams that may be relevant to public health nurses:

  1. Certified in Public Health (CPH): The National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) offers the CPH certification. This certification is not limited to nurses but is designed for public health professionals from various backgrounds, including nursing. It assesses knowledge and skills in public health practice.
  2. Community Health Nursing Certification (CHN): The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the CHN certification for nurses who work in community health and public health settings. This certification validates a nurse’s expertise in community and public health nursing.
  3. Public Health Nursing Certification (PHN-BC): The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) also offers the PHN-BC credential, which is specific to public health nursing. This certification is for RNs who have a master’s or higher degree in nursing and meet certain clinical practice and education requirements.
  4. State and Local Requirements: Some states or local health departments may have their own certification or assessment requirements for public health nurses. These requirements can vary widely, so it’s essential to check with the specific state or local agency where you plan to work.

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