"What can I do with a degree in public health?"
I am asked this question almost every day. If you are pursuing a career in public health, you probably already know that there are countless directions you can take, but you might not know quite how interdisciplinary jobs in public health can be. You may also not be aware of the wide range of emerging options.
There are many different career paths and areas of expertise you can explore as well as a lot of opportunity to work in and address public health issues across these fields. An Environmental Health Specialist, for example, can conduct field research on air pollutant exposure, but also advocate for statewide policies to reduce the concentrated pollution in specific communities. The field of Public Health overlaps and interconnects with many other fields such as Law, Business, Social Work, Medicine, Education, Public Policy, and much more.
I expand on this in my Webinar on Hot Health Careers, where I discuss
these public health pathways…..
Health Policy and Management
Maternal child health
Public health nursing
Public health nutrition
….in combination with:
City and regional planning
That’s one of the great things about Public Health. Not only is it an expanding industry with more need than ever (consider this: by 2020 there will be a shortage so big that ⅓ of the nation’s public health workforce will be vacant and in need of workers) but it is also an industry that has need in areas across countless borders. There is an option for almost everyone, and if you are considering a career in public health, there is most certainly an authentic career path waiting to be found that aligns with your passions, talents and goals. The key is to gain exposure, experience and actively pursue emerging public health paths.
I believe this is the most exciting time to be pursuing public health in my over 30 years in the field. Health reform, innovations in care delivery and health technology advances are changing the health landscape. The hot public health careers of the future will involve more coordinated and comprehensive patient-centered care, team-based work, and interdisciplinary collaboration. We are moving from an acute care approach to one that focuses on chronic disease prevention and management, evidence-based practice, information as a tool, consumer engagement, treatment of the whole person and integration of public health, medicine and mental health. There is a growing emphasis on intervening “upstream” to address the social and environmental determinants of health. Public Health and healthcare organizations are aligning efforts to implement systems that achieve the Triple Aim: better health for the population, higher quality care, and lower costs (see graph). In California and nationally this focus on the Triple Aim is driving health system redesign and focusing on the underlying determinants of health to create healthier communities. The Triple Aim and other major trends in the changing health landscape are creating an abundance of new jobs in public health and a great need for people to fill them.
And what are those jobs?
We recently discovered a very cool web application, developed by the Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health (ASPPH), called "I AM PUBLIC HEALTH" that highlights a wealth of profiles on different public health career options, searchable by specialty, employment, and location. Check it out online for some great ideas on what you can do with a degree in public health. For those of you interested in a graduate degree in public health, ASPPH is also your resource for all accredited programs and schools of public health in the US.
Finally, for a more in depth look at the future of public health, why it’s so important and rewarding for you to be entering into the public health field now and a full description of emerging health careers, be sure to watch these webinars:
Please post a discussion question or email me about pursing a career in public health. Stay engaged with MyHCN for more of the up to date information and opportunities.