Subspecialties in epidemiology – Part 2

October 3, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Academic research epidemiologist

Gap Medics students during their hospital placement Academic research epidemiologists are generally employed in universities or academic centres. Specialists in this field research the different factors that cause various diseases. Their work usually leads to major discoveries that may call for changes to be made to public health policies as a whole.

They also collect and analyse vital public health information through observations, blood, interviews and other bodily samples to help them determine what causes a particular disease. They use this information to study serious public health issues and to explore ways to prevent and treat health problems.

As with all other specialties within epidemiology, you need at least a master’s in public health. Some health care establishments may require a Ph.D.


Field epidemiologist

Field epidemiologists work in health departments. Depending on the organisation they are working with, they could be sent off to various locations around the country or even the world when there is an outbreak of disease. At the location, they work to identify the disease and determine its cause and then develop a plan of action to stem the spread of the disease accordingly.

The focus of this professional’s work is to study disease and to stem its spread. A field epidemiologist can work in several different areas, from chronic disease and environmental health to oral health and infectious diseases. You would need to have earned a master’s degree in epidemiology before you can specialise further as a field epidemiologist.


Epidemiology investigator

As an epidemiology investigator you would carry out regular evaluations in populations where there are chronic disease problems and specific trends of infection. Your main focus would be to gather biological samples, and also study the demographics of populations to determine their likelihood of getting an infection.

Epidemiology investigators also look at environmental concerns that could potentially affect public health and interact with the local community to collect biological samples. The information and biological samples gathered are then analysed to determine the cause and to devise a treatment intervention plan to stop the spread of disease. To work in this field, you must have earned a MPH.


Applied epidemiologist

Applied epidemiology focuses on investigating the risk factors and factors that impact the distribution of different diseases. Professionals who specialise in this career area are usually employed within health agencies or departments at a local, state or national level.  

Applied epidemiologists are responsible for planning and managing clinical studies of pressing public health problems to try and determine how to prevent such problems from recurring. They also collect sufficient public health information through interviews, observations and taking samples of blood and other bodily fluids. The field of applied epidemiology requires you to earn at least a master’s degree in public health. If your aim is to direct research projects, you would need to have a Ph.D.

These are just some of the specialties that you could choose from in a career as an epidemiologist. All are excellent career choices that promise to lead to a personally satisfying and financially rewarding career.