Whenever there is an outbreak of some known or unknown illness either in the United States or anywhere worldwide, there are medical personnel who attempt to figure out why the outbreak is happening so that the illness can be successfully treated in the affected populations. Among the medical personnel are nurses who specialize in a career area known as epidemiology. Epidemiology can be defined as the science of public health. Nurse epidemiology is a challenging field. However, if you have good academic skills and good analytical skills, this career could be for you. The following article is about how to become a nurse epidemiologist.
How to Become a Nurse Epidemiologist
Get a bachelor's degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university. Take the required courses for nursing, and do well in those courses. Also make sure to get good letters of recommendation that can enable you to obtain employment and eventually apply for graduate school work.
Take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam and become a licensed professional nurse. The NCLEX exam is the entry-level exam for nurse licensure and includes topics that are covered in most nursing programs such as patient care, safety, infection control, health promotion, pharmacology and psychosocial issues.
Work for 1 or 2 years as a nurse in a public health setting. For example, work in a public health clinic would be useful experience. Also, during this time do an Internet search to identify graduate nursing programs that you think you might interested in.
Go to graduate school to get a master's degree or doctoral degree in nursing with specialization in epidemiology. In graduate school, you will focus on improving your skills in health data collection and data analysis as well as becoming more adept in nursing clinical practice. If you are interested in further subspecializing within epidemiology, you can subspecialize in environmental health nursing or occupational health nursing, for example.
Get a job as a nurse epidemiologist upon completion of graduate school. Work in a hospital or long-term care facility using your epidemiology expertise. Work for the government as a researcher and assist in cases where there are health crises. Or work for a university as an educator who trains future epidemiologists.