Public Health Jobs
By an allied health world contributing writer
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Professionals who discovered the West Nile Virus and worked to prevent the spread of this disease. Individuals who lobby for money to develop campaigns for educating on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Those who find health trends and publish statistics to prevent the spread of injury and disease among a certain population. A lactation consultant who teaches a teen mom how to breastfeed her baby. These are just a few examples of jobs within the exciting and rewarding field of public health.
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The following information was gathered from a variety of sources including the www.whatispublichealth.org website, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and interviewing professionals in the field of public health.
What is public health?
Public Health is the science of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention. Public health professionals analyze the effect on health of genetics, personal choice and the environment in order to develop programs that protect the health of your family and community. Public health focuses on protecting entire communities or populations, rather than the individual. These communities can be small or large. This science field has a focus on improving the health of populations through education or sharing information, researching disease and injury prevention, and through encouraging healthy lifestyles. Developing methods to prevent the reoccurrence of health issues through implementing policies and educational programs is a main focus of the public health field. This is different than the traditional field of medicine that typically addresses patients after they become injured or sick.
There is a wide assortment of specialties within the field of public health. Some of the main areas include:
Environmental health is concerned with the interactions between our surroundings and our health and how to reduce risk factors. Examples of how environmental factors can affect the health of communities, consider food poisoning, cancer, and asthma. Areas of concern in this field are radiation protection, solid waste management, air quality, hazardous waste management, food protection, water quality, housing quality, and noise control. Individuals with a background in engineering, toxicology, and chemistry are needed in this area of public health.
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Biostatistics is the study of identifying health trends through use of statistics to develop methods of saving lives through. Predictions can be made for a population’s health trends, which can determine that cause of injury and disease.
Behavior Science and Health Education
This specialty promotes healthy choices to decrease injury and illness among populations mainly through education programs. Healthy choices can include living a healthy lifestyle, preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, advocating seat belt use, and encouraging youth to understand the detriments of binge drinking. Individuals with a background in the following areas could work in this specialty: mental health, health promotion and disease prevention, aging, public health practice, and health education.
Epidemiologists are often referred to as “disease detectives” since they investigate when food poisoning occurs or there is an influenza outbreak within a population. These professionals have the important job of determining the cause of injury or disease so they can further prevent the spread. Discoveries such as the outbreak of the West Nile virus came from epidemiologists. These individuals work closely with biostaticians.
Health Services Administration/Management
The management and administration of health services is a broader specialty that involves developing budgets for health departments, creating policies, and managing databases. Those with degrees in marketing, finance, policy formation and analysis, economics, and planning may fair well in this specialty.
Learn more about public health employment.
Maternal and Child Health
Individuals who work in this specialty work primarily with women and children to improve their health through research and education. Ensuring women have access to birth control, educating pregnant women on prenatal care, and promoting vaccines for children are all included in this specialty.
Those in the nutrition specialty within public health encourage healthy lifestyles through eating healthy and exercising. In promoting overall health and nutrition, the goal is to decrease sickness and injury.
International and Global Health
Individuals who work in the international and global health sector of public health address all the above-mentioned specialties but on a global level. Different health issues that exist in various cultures across the world are addressed. Due to people being able to travel from one country to another or one area within a country to another, diseases can also travel quickly.
Public Health Laboratory Practices
Laboratory professionals test environmental (such as food and water) and biological samples to diagnose, prevent and treat diseases that exist within populations.
Public Health Policy
Those in the specialty of public health policy have the goal of improving public health through federal, state, and local legislation. Examples of focus areas in this field would include the analysis of seat belt laws on tragic deaths and promoting anti-smoking campaign funding.
Public Health Practice
Professionals in public health practice include almost any type of health professional you’d find working at a hospital or doctors office such as physicians, nurses, veterinarians, dentists, and pharmacists. However, these individuals work with a public health focus.
Public Health Schools
- Master of Public Health
- Ph.D. in Human Services - Public Health
- Master of Public Administration - Health Policy
- Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration - Health Policy
- Master of Public Health Global Health