Shadowing a DoctorMay 16, 2014
A Look At The Different Careers in Public Health
A career in public health opens up several different paths and within these fields are a variety of sub-specialties, depending on the kind of organisation you are working with. For example, as a public health nurse, you could be working as a diabetes educator, as an administrator for a vaccination programme or as a programme related care provider for a specific community. Take a look at the different paths you can choose to pursue if you are interested in a career in public health:
Clinical researchers in the field of public health work to get a better understanding of human diseases and to improve the health of specific communities through research and development, clinical investigation and other related activities. You would generally need a PhD in a biological science or a medical degree to be employed as a clinical researcher. There are however a few master’s degree programmes in clinical research that can supplement an undergraduate degree in biology or other pre-med studies.
Public health administrators manage public and private organisations that work towards improving the health of populations, which could be at a local, state, national or international level. As a public health administrator, you may work as a departmental or programme manager in a hospital, government health and research agencies, not-for-profit community health agencies, bio/pharmaceutical establishment or international health care organisation. Your job responsibilities would include environmental health, biostatistics, grant writing, human resources and public relations.
Epidemiology relates to causes of disease in populations and the factors that contribute to the spread of these diseases. This forms the basis of public health research. Epidemiologists specialise in identifying risk factors and determining optimal approaches for prevention and treatment of different diseases. As an epidemiologist, you may work in a not-for-profit community health agency, government health and research agency, international health care agency or academia.
Public Health Physician
Public health physicians are more focused on the health of whole populations, with an emphasis on the prevention of diseases. They do not treat individual patients. Public health physicians are responsible for identifying, evaluating and monitoring public health problems, conducting research, educating the public on basic health care and managing and implementing programmes to promote good health and prevent disease. To practice as a public health physician, you must have a Master of Public Health degree. These professionals may also work to develop legislation that protects the community in areas such as air and water quality, healthcare access and public safety.
Public Health Nurse
Public health nurses help improve the health of entire communities through various means. They may initiate and manage community outreach programs, such as health screenings and vaccination clinics or they may work to educate populations about access to care and disease prevention. These professionals work in health advocacy groups, not-for-profit community health agencies and government health agencies. You will be required to have some experience as a registered nurse (RN) before you can practice as a public health nurse.
Public health biostatisticians study and interpret data that measures or addresses public health trends. As a biostatistician you may work within a team of researchers to design studies that analyse public health problems or project the impact of a trend. Public health biostatisticians may work for local, state or federal governments. Private-industry employers include pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers, scientific research and development services and insurance carriers.
A master’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for most jobs. All Master of Public Health degree programmes will typically include classes in public health biostatistics.