Population Health Nurses

Master of Science in Nursing: Population Health Track

For today’s nursing leaders, healthcare is so much more than providing quality care for the sick. It’s about educating those in their communities and working together with public health organizations to prevent disease in the first place. Healthcare is an ever-changing field, and McKendree’s MSN students are at the forefront of it. Our Population Health track blends courses in education and leadership to transform nurses and health administrators into the movers and shapers of the future of healthcare.


What is Population Health?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say Population Health “provides an opportunity for healthcare systems, agencies, and organizations to work together in order to improve the health outcomes of the communities they serve.” McKendree’s newly created Population Health track prepares MSN students to lead the collaboration between local health departments, hospitals, healthcare staff, and patients to prevent illness and limit the effects of chronic disease in their communities.



Individualized Coursework Shaped to Meet Your Career Goals

Our MSN students are full-time nurses, managers, health educators, and administrators with busy lives and long working hours. We understand what it’s like to work in healthcare, which is why we make it our mission to shape course curricula around the needs of each individual student.

With three different tracks to choose from, MSN students can hone in on areas of particular interest to their career goals, including Nursing Education, Nursing Management/Administration, or Population Health. Graduates in Population Health will be well-versed in population-based education, disease management, palliative care, prevention, and leadership principles.



Learn Online While Connecting In-Person with Your Peers through Cohorts

McKendree is known for its strong one-on-one connections between students and faculty, and even in an online learning format, that bond is not diminished. Our MSN students come everywhere from major cities to rural hospitals; therefore, all of our Nursing coursework is available online. Even in this virtual setting, we keep our class sizes small to ensure you receive the personalized guidance you need from your instructor. 

Our unique cohort method also enables you to go through the MSN program with peers in your area, whether you’re co-workers in the same facility or are located nearby. “Two of my coworkers and I were all accepted into the MSN program together as an unofficial cohort,” said Ellen Reynolds ‘22, MSN education student and nurse home visitor. “It was really nice to have someone else to talk to about assignments or questions face-to-face. One thing that sets McKendree apart from other schools is the passion and dedication of the instructors. They are truly invested in the success of their students, and the small class sizes make it very personable with lots of one-on-one attention and help.”  



McKendree MSN Evolves to Meet the Changing Focus of Healthcare

Our MSN program is grounded in evidence-based practices and is always evolving to stay up to date with the changing nature of healthcare. The curriculum that makes up McKendree’s Nursing program ensures students are well-versed in the latest health practices and concepts recognized by our partners, major healthcare organizations, advisory boards, and the Institute of Medicine’s 2011 landmark report The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. 

You’ll also have the opportunity to put what you learn into practice through an innovative capstone course and practicum experience. In the Population Health track, students complete a scholarly project, in which they effectively implement a Population Health improvement in a real world setting. Our students gain experience creating meaningful change in health outcomes before they even graduate, setting them up for success from the start.



Strong Connections with Local Healthcare Systems through Grants and Partnerships 

Not only relevant course material, but also involvement with the local healthcare community makes the McKendree Nursing program stand out in its mission to advance the future of healthcare. The university continues to collaborate with health organizations and obtain grants that fund scholarships and provide students with opportunities to work directly with outside groups on important projects and initiatives.

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“Addressing the needs of our rural populations is more critical than ever as we move toward Population Health,” said Dr. Albers.

For this reason, McKendree secured a grant with the Telligen Community Initiative and partnered with the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, public health departments, and many other groups to improve health issues for rural populations. The grant also funded student scholarships and encouraged student involvement in working toward this mission. Most recently, the McKendree Nursing program has been exploring a grant that would give students the chance to work with organizations to address Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in rural Illinois counties.



Job Prospects for MSN Graduates

The global pandemic has created a shortage of nurses and an even greater need for nurse leaders skilled in Population Health practices, such as community education and disease prevention. McKendree’s strong local reputation for Nursing is another factor that led our Class of 2021 MSN graduates to have a 100 percent job placement rate.

Career opportunities in Population Health include:

  • Hospice

  • Home health

  • Leadership and hospital education

  • Public health practices

  • Case managers

  • School nurses

  • County health officials


A Word from Our Current Students

Barbara Stevenson ‘22
is an MSN Population Health student and administrator at her county health department. She chose the Population Health track because it was most aligned with her current job in the health department and her desire to work on prevention health.

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“McKendree instructors are personally involved even without being in class together,” she said. “The staff worked with me to provide an alternative schedule to meet the needs and demands of my job.”


Ellen Reynolds ‘22 is an MSN Education student and a nurse home visitor with a Nurse Family Partnership Agency in central Illinois. In her job, she enrolls women during their pregnancies and works with them for the next two years on their life and education goals, parenting skills, child development, and community resource connection. Her goal is to become her agency’s full-time home visiting educator.

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“I have been teaching a Breastfeeding Basics class for my clients since 2019, and I used concepts from my Education courses to make the class better organized and more interactive,” she said. “The pandemic forced me to pivot to a virtual platform, which can feel somewhat disconnected. I was able to apply some of the Education tactics to make it more engaging, and since then, I have noticed an increase in the number of clients who attend my class!”





Get a great graduate education with location and format options to fit your busy lifestyle. Make it McKendree!