California Community Health Nurse Careers

Community health nurses are registered nurses (RNs) that provide a number of health and health-related resource services to lower income individuals, families, and seniors or the elderly. Also called public health nurses, community health nurses may provide services such as arranging health care for mothers and newborns (welfare services), health education (control and prevention of communicable diseases), domestic violence and abuse counseling, disability management, outreach screening, pregnancy and/or birth preparation, case management, and resource coordination and assessment.

Community health nurses typically work at public or community health centers, correctional facilities, clinics, occupational health facilities, county or state departments, or schools. They are in high demand in inner cities, rural areas, and economically disadvantages areas. Community nurses work in all states across the U.S., with higher populations in large cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Detroit.

Community Health Nurse Education and Training Programs

In just about every state, community health nurses must carry an active registered nurse (RN) license and public health nurse certification. In the State of California, in order to use the title “public health nurse” or “community health nurse,” you must:

    •    Have a permanent California RN license
    •    Be certified as a Public Health Nurse
    •    Have training in the detection, prevention, California reporting requirements and intervention techniques, and treatment of child neglect and abuse

In the State of California, acceptable training in child neglect and abuse must be acquired through an accredited/Board-approved baccalaureate or specialized program in nursing or a course of instruction in the prevention, detection, reporting requirements and treatment of child neglect and abuse that covers the subject matter specified above and is approved for continuing education (CE) credit by the Board of Registered Nursing

It is important to note that all California Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduates prior to 1981, must take the 7 hour course approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing BRN). All out-of-state child abuse courses must include coverage of the California Reporting Law requirements per Section 11166.5 of the California Penal Code.
A typical community health nurse program will cover:

    •    Concepts of Community Health Nursing
    •    Environmental Health
    •    Evaluation in Health Care
    •    Healthcare for Advanced Practice Nursing
    •    Population-based Public Health Nursing Intervention
    •    Program Development
    •    Public Health Nursing Leadership & Management
    •    Theory and Practice of Public Health Nursing

Students attending full-time may complete the program in 2 to 2.5 years, while part-time students may complete the program in 3 to 3.5 years.

Community Health Nurse Schools and Training Programs in California

The California State Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) lists six top California Universities that offer approved community health (public health) nursing programs. They include:

    •    California State University-Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA
    •    California State University, Northridge, CA
    •    Dominican University of California, San Rafael, CA
    •    Holy Names University, Oakland, CA
    •    Simpson University, Redding, CA
    •    San Jose State University, Valley Foundation School of Nursing, San Jose, CA

Although not listed on the BRN website as of February 2014, the schools listed below offer competitive community health nurse programs or nursing programs that prepare students to sit for the public health nurse certification exam. It is important to note that the Board website makes regular updates to its list of approved schools. This means, the schools listed below may very well be Board approved, so please inquire within.

    •    California College-San Diego, San Diego, CA
    •    California State University-East Bay, Hayward, CA
    •    California State University-Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
    •    California State University-Sacramento, Sacramento, CA
    •    Fresno State University, Fresno, CA
    •    San Francisco State University, College of Health and Social Sciences, San Francisco, CA
    •    University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

According to the California State University Long Beach website, their Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (BSN) is accredited by the California State Board of Registered Nursing, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. All graduates of the program are recommended for certification as a public health nurse in the State of California.

Employment and Earnings Outlook for California Community Health Nurses

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report salary and employment information for community health nurses as a single group or by state. However, it does offer national and state information for registered nurses (RNs).

The State of California is home to 249,980 RNs averaging around $94,120 per year, up from $83,040 in 2008 when the state was home to 240,470 RNs. The State has the nation’s highest employment level for RNs, with the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metro Area leading the pack. Home to 69,540 RNS, this metro area has the 3rd highest employment level for this occupation (among metro areas).

California also offers the nation’s highest average salary for RNs and it is home to the Top 10 Highest Paying Metro Areas for this occupation. The areas include:

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, $122,990 per year
2. Vallejo-Fairfield, $119,310
3. Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, $113,520
4. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, $110,630
5. Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, $107,710
6. Salinas, $105,610
7. Napa, $104,440
8. Santa Rosa-Petaluma, $102,990
9. Modesto, $100,780
10. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, $98,050

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