The Many Paths to Public Health

Public health focuses on health promotion and disease/injury prevention rather than on diagnosing and treating illnesses and conditions after they occur. There are many health care career paths that can lead to a position that promotes and many environments that you may end up working in once you choose this discipline as your specialization, including jobs in federal, private and non-governmental organizations. The “big picture” perspective that public health professionals have means that they play a large part in emergency preparedness and response.

Interested in working in an office? There’s a career in public health for that. Prefer to work in a lab? Public health has you covered as well. Your working conditions will vary depending on what specialization you choose. Options include:

  • Behavioral science/health education – These professionals encourage healthy choices, often times through community education programs, as a way to improve public health.
  • Biomedical laboratory practice – Working in a lab, these specialists use scientific techniques to diagnose and treat disease. they study factors that affect the health status of the population.
  • Biostatistics – Scientists in this field use math and statistics to conduct research in the biology, environmental, public health and medical fields. They often research how diseases affect public health trends.
  • Environmental health sciences – These scientists study the interaction between the air, water, land and our health. They can focus on researching asthma, cancer, food poisoning and many other diseases.
  • Epidemiology – Often referred to as “disease detectives,” these medical professionals investigate the cause of disease or injuries, often determining a pattern or route that a disease has taken as it spreads through a population.
  • Global health – Learning about how people in other parts of the world live is the focus of those in the global health world. Health concerns that affect these populations are studied, as well as the consequences of trauma, violence, war and displacement.
  • Health services administration – Those in the administration field combine policy and business into healthcare. They have roles such as managing immunization databases and developing budgets for hospitals.
  • Maternal and child health – Women, children and families are studied closely by those in this public health specialization. The professionals in this field provide education and access to many health services and focus on keeping women and children healthy.
  • Public health practice program management – These professionals help to prepare experienced public health professionals  to assume leadership roles in their fields. They study many of the public health specialties including substance abuse and mental health.

Learn more about the science and art of creating healthy communities through education, research and promotion of healthy lifestyles by contacting the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health.


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