By Dr. Samer Koutoubi, M.D., Ph.D.
Department Chair, Public Health
Over the past five to 10 years, the world has been exposed to new diseases and outbreaks that caused threats to national and global public health. For instance, there have been new epidemics, endemics, and pandemics involving influenza, smallpox, malaria, Zika fever, and COVID-19.
COVID-19 is even considered a public health emergency. On March 11, 2020, it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), and this disease is still prevalent today.
Related link: From Delta to Omicron: How Coronavirus Variants Behave
The Public Health Industry Involves Different Levels of Government
Federal, state, and community leaders trusted with safeguarding public health have long been fighting against new diseases and outbreaks and especially against COVID-19. These people play a crucial role in promoting healthy communities and behaviors, preventing the spread of communicable diseases, and eliminating environmental health hazards.
In addition, these leaders work with local communities on emergency preparedness and response, work in research and evaluation, and develop policies to mitigate and eliminate outbreaks. In the past century, public health initiatives have improved lives worldwide.
Careers Worth Investigating in Public Health
According to Public Health Degrees, there are five core disciplines in public health:
- Environmental Health Sciences
- Health Policy and Management
- Social and Behavioral Sciences
All of these core disciplines have different careers associated with them. According to Exploring Health Careers:
- Public health biostatisticians “use mathematical and scientific methods to determine the cause of disease and injuries, to identify health trends within communities, and to evaluate programs.”
- Environmental health sciences professionals “focus on identifying the relationships and risks of the physical environment around us on our health. They actively try to improve the public’s health addressing these environmental risk factors and putting in a concerted effort to mitigate the risks around us.”
- Epidemiologists “investigate and determine what causes a disease and how it spreads and work throughout all stages of an outbreak to identify, mitigate, and eliminate and irradicate the outbreak.”
- Health service administrators work to create policies and manage public health. That work could involve “managing the database at a school clinic, developing budgets for a health department, or working to analyze and create better policies for health.”
- Behavioral scientists and health educators “improve public health by encouraging healthy lifestyles through behavior change and educational outreach.” This type of work may involve “developing community-wide education initiatives on health topics such as nutrition or community fitness “or “creating a curriculum for training community health workers.”
The Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health notes that leaders play a key role in raising awareness in several areas of public health. These areas include:
- Improving global health
- Advancing environmental health
- Creating healthier communities
- Reducing the impact of natural disaster and global epidemics
- Addressing health disparities
Keeping Up with the Needs of the Public Health Industry
The field of health is continuing to evolve. With all of the challenges in our global society – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – there is an increased need for new practitioners with the skills to keep our worldwide communities healthy.
The Outlook for Healthcare and Public Health Occupations Is Good
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare and public health jobs outlook is projected to grow from 2020 to 2030. For instance:
- Employment in healthcare occupations is expected to grow 16%, which will add about 2.6 million new jobs to the U.S. economy.
- Employment of epidemiologists is projected to grow 30%.
- The overall employment of mathematicians and statisticians is expected to grow 33%.
- Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is anticipated to grow 8%.
- The employment of registered nurses (RN) is projected to grow 9%.
- The employment of health education specialists and community health workers is expected to grow 17%.
- The employment of medical and health services managers is predicted to grow 32%.
The Federal Government Is Also Working on Health Initiatives
The federal government is also doing what it can to improve the state of public health. According to the White House, “the Biden-Harris Administration will invest $7.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan to recruit and hire public health workers to respond to the pandemic and prepare for future public health challenges.”
The White House also plans to:
- Support the development of the next generation of leaders by creating a Public Health AmeriCorps
- Expand the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control’s Epidemic Intelligence Service
- Create a new, $3 billion grant program to facilitate federal investment in the people and expertise needed at the state and local levels to expand, train, and modernize the workforce
Gaining the Knowledge Needed to Seek Employment in Health
There are a variety of professional opportunities in the field, such as academic institutions, government agencies, state governments, local non-profits and for-profit agencies.
To help students who want to pursue public health interests, the University offers several online programs, including:
- Associate of Science in Public Health
- Bachelor of Science in Public Health
- Master of Public Health (MPH)
- Master of Science in RN to MSN – Community and Public Health Nursing
For some workplace settings, some health-related academic programs require accreditation from some industry organizations. Our MPH degree is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) and the Master of Science in RN to MSN – Community and Public Health Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Students who graduate from our MPH program will be prepared to take the exam for the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) Certified Public Health credential. Also, MPH students who have public health work experience may be eligible to sit for this exam and be provisionally certified until graduation.
At our University, we take health and education seriously. We are committed toward preparing our students to serve as practitioners, researchers, and instructors and to carry out public health functions effectively.