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Introduction - Public Health is the science of protecting and improving a community’s health through preventive medicine, health education, proper public sanitation and research and collection of data and statistics involving diseases and injuries. Careers in public health can also include positions in law enforcement, hospital administration and in organizations specializing in the creation of public policy. Graduates in curriculums for Public Health Degree Careers are currently in high demand with recent statistics indicating a current shortage in the United States of at least 250,000 workers in the public health field.
In addition, more than one half of the states in the United States have a severe shortage of trained public health personnel with a current shortage of approximately 10,000 public health physicians. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for health educators and community health workers will increase 21 percent from 2012-2022. In short, a public health degree provides a unique opportunity for a fascinating career and an excellent livelihood while having the satisfaction of providing essential health related services to communities in need.
Public health degrees - There are many educational levels whereby one can become trained and certified to help to maintain public health. These include a two- year program to obtain an Associate Degree in Public Health (AA), a four- year program for either a Bachelor’s of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor’s of Science (BA) Degree in Public Health, a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) and a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH).
Public Health Degree Careers - Many areas of specialization exist within Public Health Degree Careers. One of the most fascinating is the specialty of epidemiology. Epidemiologists use biostatistics and socio-economic data to monitor the outbreaks and spread of diseases to understand how best to treat and control public health threats.
Another area of possible specialization that is especially relevant today includes Global health. Global health degree programs emphasize proper research methods, developing effective communication skills and understanding the sociology of diverse cultures. Many graduates find jobs with non-profits or governmental agencies with work opportunities most prevalent in Asia, Africa and in the Middle East. Someone with a global health degree may work as a Refugee Coordinator, a HIV/AIDS Educator or a Project Manager.
Other specialized Public Health Careers include Health Promotion and Communication, Maternal and Child Health, Minority Health and Health Disparities, Social and Behavioral Health and Community Health. In addition, many students who begin with an Associate degree go on to pursue more advanced degrees in Nursing and Medicine.
How to earn one – Applicants interested in obtaining a degree have various methods available to them to access a public health career. As a high school graduate interested in how to earn one, an applicant should consult the Council on Education for Public Health for a list of accredited Bachelor’s programs in public health.
They should apply to the programs of their choice and once accepted then specialize in a field such as administration or statistics or nutrition. After earning their degree in four years they can then take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and apply to an MPH program graduating with a MPH degree in two years. If further study and advancement is desired, they can then apply for admission to a MsPH program to earn a Doctorate level degree.