Public and Community Health Editorial Provided by:
American Public Health Association
What is Public Health?
Public Health deals with the protection and improvement of community health through an organized community effort. This includes preventive medicine and sanitary and social science. There are many issues that affect personal and environmental health, including pollution, globalization, chronic and infectious diseases. The opportunities for public health professionals are varied--health activism, health promotion, and disease prevention in government agencies, voluntary health organizations, advocacy organizations, and businesses all over the world. The schools and programs listed here work to educate future leaders in the public health field.
Current public health concerns and how the public health fields help to combat these issues.
The nation's eight major public health concerns are chronic diseases, toxic wastes, behavior-related disorders, hazardous chemical and physical agents, health problems of low-income, disadvantaged communities, new infectious diseases, problems of the aging population and the health of infants and mothers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Examples of public health careers that confront these issues include health care managers and administrators, epidemiologists, environmental health scientists, biostatisticians, nutritionists and biomedical scientists. Managers and administrators organize, plan, direct, control, or coordinate health services, education or policy in institutions such as hospitals, clinics, public health agencies, managed care organizations and other types of businesses.
General growth in the public health industry and the types of jobs that are especially in demand.
The public health field is now experiencing a widespread worker shortage. Large numbers of our public health staff are nearing retirement and there are not enough students graduating with training in public health to replace them. As much as half of the current state public health workforce will be retiring in the next five years. Epidemiology is an area where opportunities abound for specialists trained in the study of the distribution and determinants of disease or disability in population groups. Nutrition specialists are also in short supply in the public and private sectors. Public health professionals work in a vast variety of settings including public health departments, community clinics, academic or research institutions, community-based organizations, biotechnology firms and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What is the value of a MPH and what careers are available?
The primary professional degree in the public health field is the Master of Public Health (MPH). There are many opportunities for trained public health professionals to find meaningful employment. Most occupations are found within the following core areas: health services administration; biostatistics; epidemiology; behavioral sciences/health education; and environmental health sciences. Other emerging public health fields include international/global health; biomedical and laboratory practice; nutrition; public health practice and program management; maternal and child health; and occupational safety and health. Educational institutions and programs that qualify for accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health must meet rigorous general public health standards associated with any MPH degree and meet the standards for community health education.