Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences

PHN Education in Japan


 Public health nursing is an independent nursing occupation in Japan so all public health nurses (PHNs) are required to have licensure as a registered nurse in addition to separate licensure as a PHN according to the provisions of the Act on Public Health Nurses, Midwives, and Nurses (Nursing Act). The Nursing Act requires PHNs to receive both education for nurses (course terms of at least three years) and public health nurses (course terms of at least one year). In Japan, universities and colleges have only offered undergraduate curricula that allow qualified students to sit for the licensure examinations for registered nurses and public health nurses after four years of education. However, the number of undergraduate nursing programs and nursing students have greatly increased in recent years, resulting in a decline in the quality of nursing education, as nursing programs have tended to limit their number of clinical practice students and not increase their curricula as a result.


 At present there is a wide diversity of educational programs for public health nurses in Japan. Among the courses are:

i) Master’s courses in graduate schools (presently five courses)

ii) undergraduate courses

iii) junior college non-degree courses

iv) four-year special training college courses for nurses and public health nurses

v) one-year PHN schools.


 Master’s degree courses in graduate schools are an extremely new trend in public health nurse education, and our university was the first to establish such a course in Japan in 2011. By 2015 the number of PHN Master’s courses nationwide had increased to five. Moreover, the trailblazing public health nurse education system our university pioneered is influencing universities and colleges nationwide as the number of undergraduate programs that are changing their PHN education courses into electives is rapidly increasing, and there is an increasingly active trend to educate aspiring public health nurses more carefully.

Characteristics of Our Course


 One of the major characteristics of our university is that we educate PHN students exclusively in the Master’s program of our graduate school. The reason is that public health nurses must be able to explore and prevent the present health problems facing our society and they are required to have the ability to confront future unknown health and societal threats. Our university, as a partner in the health prevention of the local community, is educating and training students to become autonomous public health nurses with advanced practical and decision making skills. In particular, we are training our students to possess the following abilities:

i) To diagnose individuals, families and communities from a health perspective and to extract and share data on actual and potential health problems

ii) To enhance the self-care ability of individuals, families and communities and to support them to improve their QOL

iii) To possess management skills and the leadership ability to improve the health level of the community

iv) To develop and utilize health care and welfare systems and social capital

v) To formulate and carry out health policies vi) To have the research and development capabilities to contribute to the development of public health vii) To have the capacity for ethical judgment and decision-making

Course Curriculum


 Our curriculum effectively combines lectures, clinical practice and laboratory skills training. In particular, our students develop solid practical skills during clinical practice, and among the courses are the following: a “community life support practicum” (two credits) to foster the ability to support individuals and families, a “community management practicum” (three credits) to foster the ability to carry out regional diagnostic and developmental activities, and a “public health field work practicum” (nine credits) to foster the ability to conduct community nursing management, to formulate policy and to conduct research.

After Graduation


 Upon completion of the Master’s course our students are eligible to take the national public health nurse examination. After passing the examination, they practice as public health nurses in the government and industrial sectors and in schools. In the government sector, they are expected to be leaders of health policy in health departments in cities, towns and villages, and in the national and prefectural governments. In the industrial sector they are expected to conduct health management for workers and their families, and in schools they are expected to manage the health care of students. In addition, after several years gaining practical experience, our graduates are able to become researchers in research institutes and faculty members in universities and colleges.