Master’s of Science (MSN) in Public Health Nursing
For nurses interested in a career in public health, a Master of Science in Public Health Nursing program will teach you how to monitor and study health trends, identify health risk factors, develop public health programs that will effect positive change in communities of all sizes and educate patients about health topics that have the potential to save lives and improve overall health. With a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and specialized training in public health, graduates will be prepared to join the workforce as public health nurses and managers, directors of community health programs and leaders of public health departments. The demand for public health nurses and nurses with advanced degrees is high. The average salary for all registered nurses was $70,000 in May 2017 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the highest 10 percent earning over $104,000 per year.
Choosing from a number of MSN in Public Health Nursing programs can be overwhelming. How can you know which program is the right fit for you? In order to make your decision simpler, here are a few elements to consider when researching schools:
- Program Accreditation: The first thing to check is whether or not a school's program is accredited by a third party organization such as Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). An accredited program has been reviewed according to a rigorous set of quality standards and scored high enough to be endorsed by the accrediting organization. For students, this means you can rest assured your nursing program will adequately prepare you for the next step in your career. A master's degree is a significant investment in your education, so it's smart to make sure you're investing in a high quality education.
- Time Commitment: Most MSN degrees take between 2 and 3 years to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated programs in which the coursework can be completed in closer to one year. Completion time can vary based on whether a student is studying on a full- or part-time basis, or if the student is taking online classes that are self-paced (meaning they can be completed as quickly or as slowly as the student wishes).
- Program Cost: The cost for an MSN in Public Health Nursing program varies from school to school based on a number of factors including geographic location, type of school, program format (online vs. classroom) as well as a student's residency status. When researching schools, be sure to factor in the cost of materials, mandatory university and course fees, campus housing and/or cost the commuting in addition to the tuition cost for a complete picture of the program cost.
- On Campus vs. Online: Many MSN students plan to complete their degree while continuing to work, and these nurses may be interested in the flexibility of an online degree program. MSN programs can be found in these "distance learning" formats that allow students to complete coursework whenever it is convenient, as well as in traditional classroom formats and a hybrid format that combines online coursework with on campus classroom time.
- Sample Coursework: When researching schools, it's a good idea to review the required courses for the public health MSN program. Typical coursework for a public health nursing MSN program include advanced nursing research, epidemiology, public health program development and evaluation and biostatistics. All MSN programs also include clinical practice hours that are completed in the field.
You may also consider a Dual MSN/MPH degree program.
If you are like the many MSN students who plan to continue working while you take classes or if you have other family and personal obligations that limit your availability for studying, an online program may be the right fit for you. Distance learning programs offer students the unmatched flexibility to complete their coursework when it is convenient and from wherever they live. Many schools also offer self-paced learning that allows students to complete their degrees and begin working in less time than traditional classroom programs.
Another advantage for online learning is accessibility. Thanks to fully online programs, students have access to a wider range of schools and program options than what is close to their homes or jobs. Additionally, in some cases online program are more cost-effective than on campus programs. While tuition rates vary, online students do not have to factor in commuting costs, campus housing or worry about traffic patterns and parking costs.
The coursework for an MSN in public health nursing program prepares nurses for careers educating the public on health topics, developing effective public health programs and researching the spread and prevention of diseases. Typical topics covered include epidemiology, advanced research topics, ethical issues, public health program development and health policy and advocacy.
As one example of an MSN in public health nursing curriculum, the following classes are included in Grand Canyon University's online MSN in Public Health Nursing program:
- Introduction to Advanced Nursing
- Organizational Leadership and Informatics
- Research and Population Health Management
- Evidence-Based Practice Project
- Foundations of Public Health Nursing
- Principles of Epidemiology
- Application & Interpretation of Public Health Data
- Population-Based Interventions
- International Principles in Community Health
- Public Health Nursing Practicum
A master's degree is a significant investment in your future career prospects as a nurse. An MSN can open the door to a wider range of jobs and lead to higher salaries. The cost of a program can be a deciding factor in whether or not a nurse can earn an advanced degree. The total cost of a public health nursing MSN program varies depending on the school's geographic location, the school's reputation, the program format and other factors. To give an example of program cost, the cost for tuition and fees at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte's online MSN in Community/Public Health program is $309.65 per credit hour for North Carolina residents and $968.65 per credit hour for non-residents for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Many schools, including those with online programs, offer financial aid for students who require assistance paying for their degrees, so be sure to check with your school of choice for any financial aid options that you might qualify for.
Graduates of an MSN in public health nursing program are prepared for leadership positions in public health program development and evaluation, public health education, and health policy and advocacy. They may work in a variety of healthcare settings, including public health departments, community organizations, school districts, home health organizations and hospitals and wellness centers. These nurses have developed skills needed to:
- Improve patient quality of life for various populations by providing patient care and health education services
- Develop, implement and evaluate public health programs
- Hire, train and oversee public health nurses and staff
- Conduct public health research projects and use the results to improve patient outcomes
- Advocate for public health policy improvements
Among the career titles these nurses may hold include:
- Public Health Nurse: Focused on improving the health of a given population of patients, this patient-facing role conducts health assessments, provides care and delivers critical health education services on a variety of health topics such as disease prevention and healthy lifestyle choices. Public health nurses may work in a variety of settings, including public health departments, community health organizations or mobile units providing healthcare services.
- Director of Public Health Programs: A management position, the director of public health programs may work for a public health department or community organization to develop impactful public health programs that will improve the quality of life and overall health of a given population.
- Epidemiology Nurse: A research-based position, an epidemiologist specializes in researching the transmission of communicable diseases in order to prevent or stop the spread of a given disease. Typical duties may include helping to design research studies, collecting data, analyzing the results and using these findings to influence healthcare guidelines and public health programs.
- Association of Community Health Nursing Educators
- Association of Public Health Nurses
- Advanced Public Health Nursing Certification
Select Your State:
Jacksonville State University
700 Pelham Road North
Jacksonville, AL 36265
Grand Canyon University
3300 West Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85017
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue - Burk Hall 357
San Francisco, CA 94132
University of California San Francisco
2 Koret Way
San Francisco, CA 94143
1660 S. Albion St., Suite 525
Denver, CO 80222
University of Hartford
200 Bloomfield Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06117
1990 Heath St.
Waterloo, IA 50703
Johns Hopkins University
525 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
Worchester State University
486 Chandler St,
Worchester, MA 01602
Wayne State University
5557 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
100 Washington Avenue South Suite 900
Minneapolis, MN 55401
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223
251 N. Main St.
Cedarville, OH 45314
University of Washington - Bothell
18115 Campus Way NE
Bothell, WA 98011
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