Public Health Nurse Certification and Licensing

Public health nurses hold licenses as RNs. The process entails completing an accredited or approved degree program in professional nursing and then passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

In many cases, RN licensing is the only legal requirement for practice. In some states, a person must get an additional certificate to practice as a public health nurse (or use the title). There aren’t necessarily a lot of extra steps — at least if a candidate holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. (A nurse can be licensed as an RN with only an associate’s degree, but a bachelor’s is the standard for public health nursing.)
In order to be state certified as a public health nurse, a nurse will also need to provide evidence that he has had coursework in public health nursing.

Become a Public Health Nurse

Public Health Nursing Resources…

Master’s level public health nurses can seek additional voluntary certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). There are several pathways to certification as a Public Health Nurse, Advanced. The first option is open to candidates who have completed graduate-level programs in community or public health nursing. The second is for RNs who have completed Master’s of Public Clinical Health (MPH) programs. Nurses who hold BSNs in nursing and master’s in other fields are also eligible if they have 2,000 hours of recent experience in community or public health nursing. (The latter is a temporary pathway, set to expire in 2015.)

Those who have been in the public health nursing field for a while may be working under different credentials. The ANCC no longer offers the Community Health Nursing or Clinical Nurse Specialist in Public Community Health Nursing exams, but nurses that currently hold these credentials may continue to renew them.