With a bachelor of science in public health, you’ll gain the skills and knowledge needed to improve the health of individuals, groups, and communities as a health educator, public health worker, or medical professional. Graduates of public health programs move into careers in a variety of sectors, including public administration, healthcare administration, and elementary, secondary, and higher education.
What is a Degree in Public Health?
Coursework in a public health bachelor’s degree program educates students on the most rampant issues affecting the health of today’s societies, groups, and communities. From childhood obesity to the spread of sexually transmitted disease, and from adult-onset diabetes to malnutrition in poverty-stricken areas, graduates of public health programs seek to prevent disease, promote health, and educate the public on these issues and more. They do so in educator, public servant, health administrator, and healthcare provider roles.
While many graduates of public health programs go on to graduate school to become doctors, dentists, or researchers, others find work in their field immediately after graduating with a bachelor’s degree. Graduates work for government and nonprofit agencies focused on public health, for schools of all levels teaching health and related topics, and for healthcare organizations that care for at-risk populations. Coursework in health communication, psychology, and informatics enable students for success after graduation.
What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Public Health?
- Principles of Public Health
- Health Informatics
- Cultural Issues in Healthcare
- Human Disease and Prevention
- Research Methods and Analysis
- Healthcare Management
- Healthcare Finance and Economics
- Planning Public Health Programs
What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Public Health?
Demand for individuals with the skills gained from a public health bachelor’s degree is expected to grow significantly in the coming decade for a variety of reasons. First, the aging Baby Boomer generation is expected to increase demand for individuals in all healthcare roles, and particularly healthcare administration. Second, modern issues like childhood obesity, adult-onset diabetes, the spread of STDs, and heart disease are rampant, creating a demand for health educators and advocates.
How Long does it take?
A bachelors in Public Health will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at OnlineDegree.com that could transfer to universities in the US.
Online Public Health Degree
Public health degree programs are a popular choice for physicians and other healthcare professions who look for a change in their career but want to remain in the same field. It is more common to study public health for a master’s degree but bachelor degree programs are also available. Students have the option to choose among different concentrations as healthcare management, healthcare promotion and wellness, health psychology and behavior.
*All salary and growth data is based on the recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at BLS.gov for a Community Health Worker
What Can You Do With a Public Health Degree?
Public health is a discipline of study that focuses on the prevention of diseases and improvement of the quality of life of the population as a whole. It deals mainly with governmental entities as well as development of laws and regulations related to health. Public health is an interdisciplinary field that involves epidemiology, statistics, social sciences and health administration. The importance of public health gained much attention recently with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization is playing a major role in the management of the pandemic following rules of public health.
What does a public health student learn?
Public health is a multidisciplinary field that involves a variety of classes from different disciplines which can be challenging to some of the students. The following list shows the courses commonly taught in public health degree programs:
- Fundamentals of public health: this is an introductory course to the field which presents main concepts as epidemics, infection control, quality of life and health education.
- Epidemiology: it is the field of study that deals with the incidence, distribution and methods of prevention of diseases with more focus on infectious diseases.
- Environmental health: this branch of public health is focused on the effect of the surrounding environment, either natural or artificial, on human health.
- Health policy: this is the branch of public health that is closely related to governmental and legal authorities. It is concerned with the development of policies and laws to improve the public health including laws related to insurance, medical services and rights, or approval of new treatments.
- Statistics: this is a fundamental course in public health programs. Statistics is used for evaluation of the spread of diseases, risk and benefit assessment, and evaluation of the efficiency of new treatments for approval.
- Infectious diseases: management of infections is among the major concerns facing public health workers. Epidemics as COVID-19 or SARS can have significant economic and social worldwide impacts.
Now I have the public health degree…where can I work after graduating?
The demand for public health workers has grown significantly in the recent years with the recent epidemics. However, their work is not limited to this issue which represents a single branch of the field. They are also responsible for the health education of people. Public health workers can specialize in a variety of jobs:
- Nutritionist: the role of this job is to promote good nutritional habits either to the public or individual clients. Nutritionists should take into consideration the needs of the person, availability of resources in addition to social and economic factors. Nutritionists may also need to work in places of disasters to limit the effects of malnutrition on children.
- Emergency management specialist: the role of this position is to implement responsive actions to crises as wars, epidemics or natural disasters.
- Epidemiologists: they work to determine the spread patterns of diseases with the aim of detection and prevention of new diseases. They work with agencies as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health.
- Health educators and community health workers: they work to spread the knowledge about good health practices as the education about hygiene and social distancing.
- Occupational health and safety specialist: the role of this job is to ensure that the work environment is safe by applying proper precautionary measures and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) taking into consideration the occupational hazards which may include physical trauma or chemicals.
Should I choose a public health degree?
Studying public health is not an easy task and requires dedication however it is rewarding on professional and personal levels. It will help you develop a number of skills that is useful for your life whatever career you choose.
- Data analysis: it is important to analyze the available data in a correct way to reach valid conclusions. Public health workers deal with large amount of data received from various sources.
- Planning: part of public health is to set health programs with specific goals and timeline using the available resources.
- Communication skills: you need to communicate effectively with healthcare providers and the public to achieve your assigned objectives.
- Leadership: public health workers commonly hold leadership positions where they have to manage diverse teams from medical and non-medical professions.
- Culture competency skills: public health workers who deal with large populations as a country or even multiple countries must appreciate the cultural differences between people which can significantly affect policies and decisions
Best Jobs for Public Health Degrees
With a bachelor’s degree in public health, graduates can find work in a variety of careers. Some go into health education, working for government agencies, schools, colleges, or healthcare facilities. Others focus their skills on healthcare administration and manage departments within doctor’s offices, nursing homes, or hospitals. Others continue their studies to become doctors, dentists, nurses, or dietitians.
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