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MSN Course Insight: Nursing Roles Within Public Health

Preview what Walden University students are learning with this required reading taken from the Master of Science in Nursing course Role of the Nurse in Global and Public Health.

Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system. Nearly 3 million registered nurses work within the U.S., and those numbers are quickly rising.1 But nurses don’t only work in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Many work in less traditional nursing fields, such as public health.

Public health is the term used to describe the overall health and well-being of a populace as well as the collective efforts to keep that populace as a healthy as possible. It’s a broad field spanning everything from disease prevention to the safety of public spaces. And public health nurses serve in a wide range of roles, as students in Walden University’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program learn. In the Walden course Role of the Nurse in Global and Public Health, MSN nursing students study Marcia Stanhope’s Public Health Nursing: Population-Centered Health Care in the Community, which lists the many roles within public health nursing. According to Stanhope’s text, nurses can find public health jobs focusing on:

MSN Course Insight: Nursing Roles Within Public Health

Communicable Disease

  • STDs/STIs
  • HIV
  • TB
  • Hepatitis A 
  • Foodborne illnesses
  • Meningitis
  • Rabies
  • Influenza  


  • Statistics/data
  • Syndromic surveillance
  • Investigations 
  • Births, deaths
  • Child fatalities  


  • Maternal-child health
  • School health
  • Community health assessments 
  • Community health improvement planning
  • Networking partnerships
  • Patient navigating  

Public Health Clinics

  • Family planning
  • Well child physicals
  • Immunizations 
  • Health screenings – cancer, diabetes, blood pressure
  • WIC  

Managers, Team Leaders, Coordinators

  • Orientating, mentoring, and supervising staff
  • Quality assurance and peer review
  • Continuing education and in-services 
  • Student precepting
  • Representative for public health nursing on advisory councils/boards
  • Advocating for policies  

Emergency Preparedness

  • Disaster assistance 
  • Special needs shelters
  • Mass immunization clinics  

How Can You Succeed in Public Health Nursing?

A public health nursing job can mean helping entire communities live better and healthier. But to make a real difference as a public health nurse, you’ll likely need to rise to a leadership level. Which is why earning an MSN degree can be an important first step.

Through an MSN program, you can study texts like Stanhope’s Public Health Nursing and gain advanced knowledge of healthcare challenges and solutions. Some master’s in nursing programs—like the one at Walden—even offer a Public Health Nursing specialization, which can allow you to focus your studies specifically on the field of public health and the role of nurses within it.

Of course, going to nursing school is a big commitment. Many RNs worry they won’t have time to attend classes while continuing to work and handle other responsibilities. If that sounds like you, there’s some good news. Online learning can give you the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in nursing without having to give up full-time employment. Rather than expecting you to attend classes on a specific campus at a specific time, online MSN programs give you the freedom to attend class from anywhere you have internet access and at whatever time of day works best for you.

The advantages on online education make it possible to go from RN to MSN without taking a leave from your job or even altering your shift schedule. If you want to become a nurse who’s also a public health professional, earning your master’s in nursing online can be a good choice.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an Master of Science in Nursing with a Public Health Nursing specialization degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,