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Public health is an exciting and growing field of study. This field spans many areas, from disease prevention, outbreak control, and health promotion to epidemiology, environmental health, health care, health policy, and even bio-terrorism. Public health professionals play a critical role in monitoring a population's health, controlling disease and fostering policies to improve and promote health and health services. Advancement of a society to a great extent depends on the health of its population. Hence public health professionals have much to do in the present as well as future prospect of a nation.
Public health is a field that offers an abundance of job opportunities to suit a variety of interests and skills. There is something for everyone, whether you are interested in mathematics, science, management, prevention programs, law-making procedures, in conducting research or working with people. Whatever role you decide to pursue, you can be sure that a career in public health will be a rewarding and satisfying profession.
Careers in public health vary widely, from administrative and allied health, to science and medicine careers for doctorate level professionals such as PhDs and physicians. Careers in research, education, communications and more are available in the field of public health. Public health professionals can work in both the public as well as private sectors. Public Health professionals work in a wide variety of settings including public health departments, community clinics, academic or research institutions, community based organizations, bio-technology firms or center for disease control. In health department, there are various jobs available which include food safety inspectors, health educators, policy analysts, epidemiologists and more. They can work for various pharmaceutical companies or for health insurance firms. Some public health professionals work in universities or research institutes as researchers.
They can find employment with organizations such as the Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Society of Health Administration (ISHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), National Institute of Health (NIH), UNESCO, International Union for Health Education etc. Other professionals may choose to work in non-profit organisations such as the Red Cross, or a local non-profit organization which focuses on specific health issues. A professional degree in public health also opens doors into pharmaceutical companies who undertake randomized clinical trials. Public health consultants specialised in IT in healthcare are in great demand in various national and multinational companies.
The field of public health is highly varied and encompasses many academic disciplines ranging from pure research to direct public education. Areas of specialization within public health include:
Health Services Administration/Management - Health service administration/management is concerned with ensuring the smooth function of a health care organization. The management and administration of health services is a broader specialty that involves planning, coordinating and supervising community health programs or managing the day to day operations of a public health organization through activities like employee supervision, staffing, budgeting, policy making, etc. Those with degrees in marketing, finance, policy formation and analysis, economics, and planning may fair well in this specialty.
Biostatistics - Biostatistics has widespread application in the field of public health. It uses statistical science to identify health trends and analyze public health problems.
Epidemiology- Epidemiology refers to the study of factors affecting the health of a community. This branch of public health studies the risk factors for a disease and how to control its spread in a community, among other things. Epidemiologists are often referred to as 'disease detectives' since they detect the cause of disease and takes steps to prevent its spread.
Behavior Science and Health Education - This specialty
promotes healthy choices to decrease injury and illness among population
mainly through education programs. Health educators work with communities
to promote healthy lifestyles and wellness. They are responsible for planning
and implementing various community health education programs as well as
evaluating their success. A public health educators visits schools, organizations
and communities in order to raise awareness.
Environmental Health - Environment health is the branch of public health that is concerned with the theory and practice of assessing and controlling environmental factors that impact human health. In other words, Environmental health studies the impact of our surroundings on our health. According to World Health Organization, environment health services involve developing and implementing policies aimed at preventing environment health hazards and promoting public health and environment. Areas of concern in this field are radiation protection, solid waste management, air quality, hazardous waste management, food protection, water quality, housing quality, and noise control. This field include a wide range of science skills. Individuals with a background in engineering, toxicology, and chemistry are needed in this area of public health.
International and Global Health - Individuals who work in the international and global health sector of public health address all the above-mentioned specialties but on a global level. Different health issues that exist in various cultures across the world are addressed. Due to people being able to travel from one country to another or one area within a country to another, diseases can also travel quickly.
Nutrition - Nutrition encompasses the combination of education and science to promote health and disease prevention. Promoting healthy eating and regular exercise, researching the effect of diet on the elderly, teaching the dangers of overeating and overdieting are the responsibility of public health nutritionists. In promoting overall health and nutrition, the goal is to decrease sickness and injury.
Maternal and Child Health - Individuals who work in this specialty work primarily with women and children to improve their health through research and education. Providing information and access to birth control; promoting the health of a pregnant woman and an unborn child; and dispensing vaccinations to children are part of maternal and child health. Professionals in maternal and child health improve the public health delivery systems specifically for women, children, and their families through advocacy, education, and research.
Public Health Laboratory Practices - Public health Laboratory pofessionals include bacteriologists, microbiologists and biochemists. Laboratory professionals test environmental (such as food and water) and biological samples to diagnose, prevent and treat diseases that exist within populations. In order to ensure the safety of our food and water, to screen for the presence of certain diseases within communities, and to respond to public health emergencies, such as bioterrorism, public health laboratory practice is essential.
Public Health Policy - Professionals in public health policy work to improve the public's health through legislative action at the local, state, and federal levels. Examples of focus areas in this field would include the analysis of seat belt laws on tragic deaths and promoting anti-smoking campaign funding.
Public Health Practice - Professionals in public health practice include almost any type of health professional you’d find working at a hospital or doctors office such as physicians, nurses, veterinarians, dentists, and pharmacists. However, these individuals work with a public health focus.
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