Public health has never been more critical than it is today. From pandemics to chronic diseases, our world faces unprecedented health challenges requiring innovative solutions. Public health is a dynamic field with a wide range of career options that can make a meaningful impact on society. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most exciting and rewarding careers in public health that you should consider pursuing.
Epidemiologists are responsible for tracking the distribution of diseases in populations, identifying the causes of diseases, and developing ways to prevent their spread. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted epidemiologists’ critical role in public health, from tracking the spread of the disease to developing strategies for controlling its transmission. As a result, the demand for epidemiologists has grown significantly.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the employment of epidemiologists will increase by 26% from 2021 to 2031, which is greater than the average for most occupations. Approximately 800 job openings for epidemiologists are expected to be available each year.
To become an epidemiologist, you typically need a master’s degree. However, some employers may require a doctorate, such as a DrPH or PhD in Public Health. A doctoral degree can open up more advanced career opportunities and increase earning potential.
When considering a DrPH vs PhD in Public Health, it’s essential to consider your career goals. A DrPH is designed for public health practitioners who wish to become leaders in the field, while a PhD is geared towards those who want to pursue academic or research careers. Both degrees can lead to successful careers in epidemiology, with bright job prospects.
Health educators play a crucial role in promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyles. These professionals work with individuals, families, and communities to provide information and resources that empower them to make informed decisions about their health.
Health educators develop and implement programs that educate people about health risks. They may design educational materials, such as brochures and videos, and conduct training sessions and workshops. They work with diverse populations, including children, adolescents, adults, and seniors, and tailor their programs to the specific needs of each group.
One of the major tasks of a health educator is to conduct community outreach and engagement activities. They work with community organizations, schools, and healthcare providers to promote healthy behaviors and encourage people to take advantage of preventative health services, such as vaccinations and screenings.
According to the BLS, the employment of health educators is projected to grow by 12% from 2021 to 2031. If you have a passion for promoting health and wellness and enjoy working with people, a career as a health educator is an excellent fit for you. By educating and empowering communities to make informed decisions for better health outcomes, you can make a real difference in improving public health.
Healthcare administrators manage healthcare resources, including finances, personnel, and equipment. They work closely with healthcare providers and staff to ensure that patient care is of the highest quality that meets established standards of care. Healthcare administrators may also work with community organizations and policymakers to develop programs and policies that improve public health.
In addition to managing resources, healthcare administrators are also responsible for ensuring that their organizations comply with regulations and laws related to healthcare. Violations of these laws can have severe consequences for patients and the organization. The Theranos scandal is a prominent example of an organization that did not comply with healthcare laws and regulations, resulting in harm to patients and legal repercussions for the company’s leaders.
The company reportedly used unapproved devices to perform medical tests and falsified data to show that its technology was accurate and reliable. This violated the FDA regulations for medical devices and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) that govern laboratory testing. Consequently, the company’s founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was indicted on multiple counts of fraud, and Theranos was forced to shut down.
The scandal is a powerful reminder of the crucial role that healthcare administrators play in ensuring compliance with healthcare laws and regulations. As leaders within their organizations, healthcare administrators are responsible for promoting ethical and responsible practices that prioritize patient safety and public health.
Environmental Health Specialist
Environmental health specialists play a critical role in protecting public health by identifying and addressing environmental factors that can impact human health. These professionals use their knowledge of environmental science and public health to identify and assess potential environmental health hazards, such as air and water pollution, toxic chemicals, and hazardous waste.
Environmental health specialists also work to develop and implement policies and programs to mitigate the risks posed by environmental hazards. It can involve conducting research, analyzing data, and collaborating with other professionals and stakeholders to identify practical solutions to complex environmental health issues.
In recent years, environmental health has become increasingly important in the face of global ecological challenges such as climate change and emerging environmental health threats. For instance, concerns about the health effects of exposure to Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have grown in recent years.
PFAS exposure can have several adverse health effects, including increased cholesterol levels, decreased vaccine response, and an increased risk of kidney cancer. Environmental health specialists have played a critical role in effectively assessing the health risks associated with PFAS exposure, developing policies and guidelines to limit exposure, and working to clean up contaminated sites.
Global Health Specialist
Global health specialists work to improve health outcomes and promote health equity worldwide. These experts use their knowledge of public health, epidemiology, and other relevant fields to identify and address health challenges that transcend national borders, including malnutrition, infectious diseases, and maternal and child health.
In addition to providing direct health services, global health specialists work to develop policies and programs that can improve health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. They work in various settings, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN).
Depending on their expertise and professional background, they may work in research, program development, policy-making, or direct health service delivery. Some global health specialists may also work in the private sector, such as consulting firms or pharmaceutical companies, providing expertise on global health issues.
Public health is a field that is crucial in promoting wellbeing and preventing diseases. The careers discussed in this article – epidemiologists, health educators, healthcare administrators, environmental health specialists, and global health specialists – all have a vital role in safeguarding public health. By selecting a public health career that aligns with your interests and passions, you can make a significant impact on your community and beyond.