Community Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
Although the Community Nurse is not always required to be a Registered Nurse (RN), her level of care needs to be no less. Community Nurse training allows her to make home care visits for individuals who are shut-ins or in a group home, and she has an assigned caseload of patients, often within a designated facility or city area, who she visits on a weekly (or more frequent) basis. She should have an excellent rapport and friendly connections with everyone she encounters, both patients and case management coordinators.
She is required to carefully document her caseload and patient interactions, and submit documentation about her charges and the care she administered to them. Often her work schedule may ask her to take weekend hours or time on designated holidays to complete her nursing care in-home.
In short, she is the primary care giver for a selected group of patients, all case managed by a larger facility. She is the “first-line” health professional, and may be required to refer and transport patients to medical facilities, should the need arise. In addition, her community may be faith-based, such as a church congregation, and she may be required (or “preferred”) to be a member of the same faith or religious persuasion (as most such congregations are exempt from non-exclusivity laws by their religious and legal status).
Community Nurse Training
Although it is not as rigorous as the training for an RN (registered nurse), many RNs do indeed undertake Community Nurse training, and an RN is always the first chosen in a competitive job situation. Therefore, you should approach the job of Community Nurse with the idea that you will first achieve an RN certification. You will need, at the very least, a Licensed Vocational and/or Practical Nurse diploma in order to competitively apply for such a position.
The basic training, RN or not, for any individual interested in a nursing career should begin early, with biology, chemistry and science classes in high school or college at the very latest.
You should then begin at college level, either at an accredited university with a nursing program or at an accredited school of Nursing. These programs will offer either a two-year Associates degree or four-year Bachelors degree; you should aim for the Bachelors degree, as it is usually preferred, and will be much more competitive.
The course of training will include some of these courses:
Nursing courses in health assessment, medical and professional ethics and advanced sciences (such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, anatomy).
Clinical experience in hospital/medical facilities (about a year’s time at the very least).
Completion of 1,000 hours of clinical hands-on experience(many RN and other competitive nursing positions ask for up to 4,000 hours).
This is the preliminary work needed to achieve RN status; if you want to make yourself competitive enough in the Community Nurse’s job market, you should go on to complete RN training and pass the RN Examination for your state. Once you have your RN certification, you can specialize in any nursing field you wish.
To be competitive, you should have experience (in your hours of clinical hands-on work) in physical, occupational and speech therapy, nutrition services, collaboration with social workers and the elementary diagnostics that determine the level of services a patient requires.
Community Nurse Certification
Once you have completed the RN certification, you can proceed to specializing for a Community Nurse position, and obtain certification from a local CHHA (Certified Home Healthcare Agency), found in any state. This is usually not a laborious process; there may be a special exam involved (such states as California and New York require it), but most applicants of RN status are accepted and able to certify as Community Nurses with no trouble.
Community Nurse Outlook and Salary
Outlook for the Community Nurse’s job prospects, as for most RNs, is excellent, with expected growth of 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That same group sets the median salary of community health professionals and nursing care facility professionals at $57,060 per annum.
The job of Community Nurse can be a challenging one; however, for the right individual who has the ability to establish communication and rapport with patients, it is a rewarding and fulfilling employment experience. Community Nurse training is just another step along the path to this ideal career.