Nurses fill some of the most important roles in health care in Mississippi. As a registered nurse, your focus up to this point may have been the care of individual patients. Although you may have noticed trends in health problems and diagnoses, your day-to-day work may simply look at how you can help each patient.
However, there is a bigger picture in Mississippi health care, and that is public health. This can be a challenging aspect of Mississippi health care, since there are many remote communities that have little access to health information and care. Through the Mississippi State Department of Health, public health nurses run awareness and education programs, track the spread of disease, and tackle health problems that are unique to Mississippi.
If this sounds like a great way to use your nursing experience, request information from public health nursing graduate programs in Mississippi.
Becoming certified to work as a public health nurse is a process with two main areas of focus. First, you must become competent in advanced nursing practices and theories. Second, you must be able to use all of your nursing knowledge in a public health setting. As you work toward these goals, you may earn more than 30 credits at the graduate level. For most students, this equates to two to three years of study.
The classes you take at this level should expand on your undergraduate education, challenge your nursing knowledge and beliefs, and give you experience in new areas of study. Some of the classes that you may find in your curriculum include Health Care Informatics, Applied Evidence-Based Practice, Applied Biostatistics, Health Systems and Management, Health Care Policy, Social Behavioral Factors in Health, and Methods in Research & Evaluation.
You should also develop a broad public health skill set. You may discover how to evaluate health programs, run educational programs, assess and react to health threats, and effectively communicate with clinical practitioners and lawmakers. In total, you may spend several hundred hours gaining clinical experience.
The state of Mississippi has many scholarship programs for graduate-level students. The Mississippi Nurses Foundation awards grants like the Betty Dickson Health Policy Award and the Dare to Soar Scholarship, both of which are open to public health nursing students.
The field of public health in Mississippi has been responsible for several major advances in the state. For example, PEW Research notes that Mississippi is one of the four states with very strict vaccine laws, a move that is expected to prevent many dangerous illnesses. Public health nurses are directly responsible for these types of advances, both in terms of public education and legislative advocacy.
Salaries vary quite a bit, depending on employer, level of experience, and amount of education. Across Mississippi, the average salary for registered nurses is $54,900 per year (O*Net, 2014). However, taking on the title of public health nurse may give you the chance to earn a higher salary. By the year 2022, O*Net expects to see a 13% increase in Mississippi nursing jobs.
The field of public health needs dedicated, passionate nurses to keep growing. Find out what your next step is by contacting public health nursing programs in Mississippi.