Masters in Community Health Nursing: Program Overview

Master's degree programs in community health nurses teach registered nurses (RNs) to develop, implement and promote nursing services programs in susceptible populations and communities. Read on for information on prerequisites, required courses and certification opportunities in this field.

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Essential Information

Master's degree programs in community health nursing train students to care for vulnerable populations and communities. Graduate students learn to identify high-risk populations, as well as plan and implement health promotion and disease prevention services. Hands-on training in health policy development and program evaluation is provided though clinical experience and nursing practicums.

Programs vary in length, but most require 36-48 credit hours of work. Students can often attend part-time, which allows them to continue working while earning the degree. Graduates can qualify to take the national exam to become advanced practice nurses in community health nursing.

Education Prerequisites

Applicants to the master's degree program must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing. In addition to having GMAT or GRE test scores, applicants must be licensed RNs. Prospective students typically complete a statement of intent and submit three letters of recommendation.

Program Coursework

Community health nursing students take courses that cover theoretical foundations in nursing, research methods, health promotion and disease prevention. The curriculum also covers the following areas:

  • Epidemiology principles
  • Policy and professional issues
  • Management principles and practices
  • Health assessment
  • Health promotion

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected the employment outlook for registered nurses, including community health nurses, to grow faster than the average for all occupations from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The estimated 19% growth rate is expected to come from technological advances, increased emphasis on preventive care and an increased need for elderly care. As of May 2013, the BLS reported that registered nurses made median annual salaries of $66,220.

Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information

Completion of the program qualifies students to sit for certification exam offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to become advanced practice clinical specialists in community health nursing. The examination consists of ten parts and covers community health nursing foundations, assessment and application.

Community health nurses holding a master's degree can pursue a doctorate degree in nursing. They may pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D. in nursing. The DNP is typically designed for nurses pursuing practical medical training, whereas Ph.D. programs focus on scholarly application.

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