What can you do with a Public Health Degree?
Do you love the idea of making a difference in the community? Do you enjoy working with people in the community or towns to advance public health awareness and wellness teaching? Do you have a passion for wanting to improve the health of individuals and societies at large by supporting healthy lifestyle choices? If your answers to all these questions is yes, you should consider a career in the public health sector.
If you wish to specialize in this field of study and help in the prevention of problems or minimize the potential of these problems from recurring through the implementation of educative programs, administering services, policy suggestions and performing research, a Public Health course will be the best option for you. Read on for more information about the course, possible career paths, and specialization.
What is a Public Health Degree?
Public health is a branch of medicine that deals with the health of a population as a whole in terms of government support and regulation. It is the science of improving and protecting the health of people and its communities by supporting healthy lifestyles, preventing injuries, detecting and responding to infectious diseases, among others. It focuses on the overall improvement of human life and disease prevention.
This field of study consists of a wide variety of disciplines, many of which are based on medicine, science, and statistics. Typically, students learn about food nutrition, health promotion, injury prevention, community promotion, among others.
Public Health courses are generally offered by universities under a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Degree under the field of medicine or a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Health program. In most cases, these programs allow students to choose between a natural science or social science.
What are the requirements for a Public Health Degree?
Requirements for a Public Health course may vary depending on the institution you want to enroll in or by country.
However, some basic knowledge of biology, calculus, and English is required to understand some of the basic concepts in the field.
What are the key skills for Public Health?
- Strong verbal and written communication skills.
- Strong work ethics and teamwork skills.
- Strong problem-solving and analytical skills.
- Flexibility or adaptability with an ability to take the initiative.
- Computer skills.
- Technical skills.
Types of Public Health Degree Programs & Specializations
Public health as a field of study that consists of various specialization branches. Generally, it is a diverse field with multiple career opportunities for graduates. Some of the most popular specializations include epidemiology, policy and health management, environmental health, among others.
Typically, the first year of study will focus on equipping students with a general overview and foundation of the discipline. Later students will explore the course deeper and specialize in specific areas according to their preferences. Below is a list of some of the topics you’re most likely going to come across:
- Health disparities
- Nutrition and Public health
- Principles of public health
- Human diseases
- Healthcare delivery
Here are some specializations:
This program focuses on the association between chemical, biological and physical characteristics of the environment to illustrate the need for environmental health awareness. Generally, students learn how to assess the current environment to determine public health expectations concerning it. Typically, topics covered under this field include disease prevention, zoonotic diseases, air quality, and living conditions, occupational hazards, among others.
Global health programs focus on the range of international public health issues with the aim of understanding and providing enlightenment of these epidemics. Some of the topics covered within this field include environmental health, chronic diseases, and illness, policy, management and administration. The goal of this program is to equip students with skills to research, develop and implement practical global health initiatives that can make a difference by improving the public health sector globally.
Community health or health promotion focuses on communication or rather creating awareness, educating and researching health problems. In this program, students are trained on how to directly inform the public on matters concerning their personal health as well as assess, create and implement health programs, raise awareness and educate the public about the various health issues.
This is the primary science within public health. In this program, students will learn the fundamentals of why people get sick, the groups of people that are disposable to sickness and potential solutions that can be implemented to minimize the risks of widespread diseases and illnesses.
This program focuses on equipping students with comprehensive knowledge and diet research that revolves around the acquisition of health-related problems. Here students do research on biostatistics that revolves around diet and health while providing general expectations concerning environmental, economic and social factors that could be associated with health issues. Additionally, they study how to evaluate public health programs for progress in nutrition-related fields.
Policy and management
In this program, students learn the methods and ethics for management as well as how to evaluate public health programs for flaws and provide enlightenment on how to improve these sectors. Some of the topics that may be covered in this area include leadership practices, law, and ethics in public health, policy development, organizational science, among others.
Social and behavioral science
This program focuses on how behavior can affect the overall health of individuals. Here students will conduct comprehensive research into cognitive ability, behavior, social interactions, community studies, and so on. With the knowledge obtained, students will be trained on how to use it to create practical programs that can help to establish strategies, implement programs, identify risk factors and so on.
This program involves training students on how to manage disasters such as natural, biological or nuclear threats among other damaging factors concerning human safety. Here students will most likely cover topics on the federal recovery process, homeland security, humanitarian assistance, meteorology, infrastructure protection, food, and water safety, among others.
Public health education
This field of specialization focuses on equipping students with the technical know-how of educating the public on approaches to improve their personal health and that of their environment. Under this program, the topics that may be covered include history and change in public health, teaching methods, educational theory, public health programs, among others.
Health service administration
In this program, students are trained on how to help entire communities as well as individuals in the prevention and treatment of health issues to improve the quality of life. Here students will focus on obtaining the skills and knowledge for advocating and improving lives in a society in various fields such as child development, psychology in addictions, mental health administration, family and community service, among others.
Maternal and child health
In this program, students will acquire extensive knowledge about the mental, developmental, behavioral and social health of mothers and children. Typically, this program will concentrate on the recognition of safe habits and healthy lifestyle choices for families as well as maternal and health programs that focus on culturally associated approaches that can positively or negatively affect the general health of families.
Career Options for Public Health Majors
Whether you want to create a healthy and happy society in your neighborhood or the entire globe, public health studies will help you do just that and more. Public health majors have the opportunity of working for numerous local and international organizations within several industries to create a positive impact on the lives of communities.
Due to the nature of the healthcare industry, there are hundreds of public health jobs for graduates, some of which include:
- Dietician and nutritionist
These professionals are responsible for assessing the health of clients and provide advice about the foods to eat and those to avoid to improve health. They plan food and nutrition programs as well as monitor the preparation and serving of food to ensure the prevention of illnesses. Additionally, they assist in treating diseases that are associated with diet deficiencies by recommending healthy eating habits and suitable diet changes.
- Emergency management specialist
Emergency management specialists are responsible for assisting societies and government institutions to prepare for disasters, analyze emergency plans, train and prepare for emergency responses and ensuring that the individual needs of the people involved in the catastrophe are met.
Epidemiologists are responsible for gathering data and evaluating health problems by investigating patterns and causes of illnesses or diseases to human beings. Their primary role is to decrease the occurrences of adverse health results by creating public awareness and implementing health policies.
Microbiologists are responsible for investigating the growth, development, structure and other characteristics of microscopic organisms such as fungi or bacteria. Medical microbiologists focus on analyzing the relationship between diseases and organisms or the effects of medication on microorganisms.
- Occupational health and safety specialist
These professionals are responsible for assessing different environments and work processes to ensure adherence to regulations on health, safety and the environment. They are in charge of creating programs to curb diseases or injury to workers or damage to the environment.
- Quality improvement coordinator
These professionals are responsible for ensuring that nurses within medical settings adhere to the care standards as well as crucial quality performance indicators. They conduct onsite reviews concerning quality issues, documenting and investigating complaints, establishing and implementing corrective action plans, suggesting improvements to quality and creating data outcome reports, among other duties.
- Community health specialist
Community health specialists are responsible for developing, implementing and creating awareness of health programs that assist societies or communities in achieving optimal health by providing healthcare information.
- Prevention specialists
Prevention specialists are responsible for educating youths who are at risk of substance abuse, among other high-risk activities at schools or in the community. From a general perspective, they promote alcohol and drug-free lifestyles by encouraging, creating, sustaining and coordinating, systematic approaches as well as systems to prevent substance abuse.
- Research assistant
Research assistants are responsible for providing assistance to researchers. Their duties include performing statistical data analysis, conducting experiments and research based on instructions from the primary researcher, preparing visual representations including graphs or spreadsheets among others.
- Environmental scientists
Environmental scientists collect samples and observational data during fieldwork and perform experimental tests in a lab to determine various factors such as water and soil pollution resulting from industries or agricultural practices as well as interpreting the results to determine whether the contamination is in compliance with environmental laws.
- Healthcare administrator
Healthcare administrators, also referred to as health service managers are responsible for managing the daily administrative activities of hospitals among other healthcare facilities. They plan and oversee medical services, monitor budgets, update health records, among other duties.
- Industrial hygienist
Industrial hygienists are responsible for developing and implementing policies, programs and procedures to measure and minimize employee’s exposure to chemical, physical, biological or ergonomic stress factors. They collect environmental data, identify potential environmental hazards, suggest improvements, develop and execute educational programs to ensure employee well-being and health are protected.
- Behavioral scientist
Behavioral scientists are responsible for planning and conducting research using scientific quantitative and qualitative techniques. They focus on establishing how the behavior of people impact their development, their relationships, and their future behaviour. They will be in charge of investigating various health issues, identifying potential signs of violence and create programs to curb these issues. These professionals can work in multiple fields including working as counselors, criminologists, social workers, among other professions.
- Mental health researcher
Mental health researchers are responsible for identifying trends in mental health conditions within a society, creating an experimental protocol to study specific issues to understand problems and the causative factors better.
- Bioterrorism researcher
These professionals are responsible for collecting data to identify possible risks to the public, develop ways to ensure public safety, establish protocols together with policymakers to improve safety and generate strategies for quick responses to bioterrorist attacks.