The array of jobs available in the health care field is vast and may seem overwhelming to choose from.With some careful consideration of your skills, interests, desired working environment, how much you want to advance your education and demand, you can narrow down fields of interest to those that are best suited for you. If you are curious about the realm of public health, here are some frequently asked questions about this career path.
What is Public Health?
The scope of public health is wide; those in this field focus on broad, complex issues related to, you guessed it, public health. Some examples of what people in this field do include trying to improve access to health care, controlling infectious diseases, reducing environmental hazards, and curtailing violence, substance abuse and injury. Myriad people work in public health such as teachers, scientists, researchers, administrators, environmentalists, social workers and attorneys.
Where Will I Work?
Public health professionals are found in a variety of professional settings in both the private and public sector. You can work for local, state or federal health departments doing anything from epidemiology to food safety; many graduates go on to work in universities as researchers. If you are interested in the non-profit end of things, possible positions include a researcher for an organization that focuses on a specific health issue, formulating policy or advocacy. Examples of private sector jobs include working for health insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies.
How can a Graduate Degree Benefit me?
If the types of issues that fall under the scope of public health are of great interest to you, getting a graduate degree in this field will certainly increase employment opportunities. It will prepare you to take on the roles that make a difference. You will gain a greater understanding of what influences health laws and policies; a degree in public health will allow you to apply skills and develop strategies necessary for solving health problems. You definitely do not need a master’s degree to enter this field, but many jobs require at least this level of education, so it is important to think carefully about your career goals when deciding if the time and expense of an advanced degree is worth it.
How Do I Choose a School?
Like other advanced degrees, you have a lot of programs to choose from, and some are better suited for you than others based on many individual factors. First and foremost, you need to find out if a schools’ program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH, an organization which sets forth rigorous standards for educational programs in this field). Another factor to consider is exactly what type of degree you are interested in—there are many individual programs, such as the health policy specialization masters degree, which has a strong focus on health policy. It is important to evaluate the merits of the specific type of public health degree program you are interested in, and not just the school or overall program. You also need to decide if your ultimate goals are more oriented towards academia or actually working in the public health field.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs frequently about various education and career topics.