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Interested in Healthcare and the General Public? Consider a Career in Public Health
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A Masters in Public Health Will Open Many Doors

Working in public health can be a daunting but rewarding career choice. The field of public health gives you the opportunity to become an educator, manager, administrator, analyst, statistician, among other positions, that work for the good of the public’s health.

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According to publichealth.org, careers in public health include the following:

  • Biostatistics and Informatics
  • Communications
  • Community Health
  • Public Health Education
  • Emergency Management
  • Environmental Health
  • Epidemiology and Research
  • Global Health
  • Public Policy and Administration
  • Social and Behavioral Science
  • Medical Practice
  • Mental Health Practice

There are a wide range of career opportunities and education paths for working in the public health industry.

Educational Options

For the professional who wishes to work directly with patients, a medical or nursing degree would be the place to begin. To earn a medical degree, you must first earn an undergraduate degree in pre-med, which can include concentrations in chemistry, biology, and physics.

After you have earned your undergraduate degree, you must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to apply for medical school. An excellent grade on the MCAT will increase your chances of being accepted to medical school. Once in medical school, you will do a year of all basic sciences, anatomy, histology, pathology, and biochemistry.

You will also do a year of clinical work in a hospital, and during years three and four, you will do clinical rotations to lean what you want to specialize in. After medical school, you have three years of residency where you gain experience in your specialty.

To become a nurse, you can become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), which only requires certification. Or, you can choose to earn an Associate of Science in nursing or a Bachelor of Science in nursing. Nurses who go on to earn a master’s degree in nursing are most often looking for a management or teaching position.

Doctors and nurses are also needed in almost every other position available in public health. Doctors who specialize in research and diagnostic medicine can work in epidemiology, emergency management, and global health. Those who specialize in virtually any area of medicine can be well-suited to help with public health policy and politics, public health education, and community health.

However, not all positions require a medical or nursing degree. According to Indiana.edu, you can earn a Master of Public Health in the following concentrations without a medical or nursing degree:

  • Behavioral, Social, and Community Health (BSCH)
  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Physical Activity
  • Public Health Administration

Behavioral, Social, and Community Health Degree

To earn the BSCH degree, you will take coursework in assessing public health, evidence-based approaches to public health, public health policy, and politics (these are the core courses required for every concentration), intervention, fund management, and complete fieldwork and professional development.

Biostatistics

Those who major in biostatistics must finish the core courses, experimental analysis and design, multivariate statistical analysis, data analysis, longitudinal data analysis, survival analysis, and complete fieldwork and professional development.

Environmental Health

The environmental health degree requires study in the core courses, toxicology, exposure assessment and control, risk assessment, environmental and occupational epidemiology, and complete fieldwork and professional development.

Epidemiology

Epidemiologists study the core courses, statistics and probabilities, statistical packages in research, chronic disease epidemiology, infectious disease epidemiology, genetic epidemiology, social epidemiology, nutritional epidemiology, and complete fieldwork and seminars on epidemiology.

Physical Activity

The physical activity concentration requires the same core courses and specialized courses in physical activity and health, physical activity assessment in public health, physical activity across lifespans, behavioral interventions, and complete fieldwork and seminars in physical education.

Public Health Administration

Public health administration candidates must complete the core requirements listed in the previous descriptions, as well as legal issues in public health, acquiring and managing external funds, public health economics, finance and budgeting, and complete fieldwork and seminars in public health administration.

Career Options

Once the degree is complete, candidates can find jobs in various organizations. Examples of potential careers include:

  • Local and statewide health departments
  • Researcher at a university
  • Managers or epidemiologists for hospitals
  • Statistical or analytical managers for state health departments
  • Health educators or research specialists for insurance companies
  • Specialists in environmental health and safety
  • Consultants in risk management for insurance companies
  • Biostatistician for a university specializing in medical/health research
  • Disease prevention manager for local or statewide programs
  • Technical advisor for AIDS/HIV local or statewide programs
  • Tobacco prevention coordinators and educators for corporations or insurance companies

This list is by no means a comprehensive example of the jobs available for graduates. The US Labor Department suggests that the job outlook for such positions is steady or increasing, depending on the specialty.

The annual salary for these positions will also vary significantly:

  • Health Educator: $45,000
  • Epidemiologist: $70,000
  • Biostatisticians: $80,000
  • Health and Safety Specialists: $67,000
  • Risk Managers (insurance) : $70,000
  • Environmental Specialists: $70,000

The field of public health offers tremendous opportunity for anyone who loves public service. While the educational requirements are significant, the employment opportunities continue to grow.

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