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Jobs In Public Health - Jobs Opportunities In the Field of Public Health

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Public health refers to practices that protect and improve the well-being of an entire population. Those practices can be research into disease and injury prevention, education, advocacy, some aspect of clinical care, or promotion of a healthier lifestyle. Most of the improvement in life expectancy over the past century has come not from increased access to medical care, but from classic public health interventions such as immunizations, water purification standards and better sanitation.

Because of its broad scope, traditionally public health is broken down into a number core competencies that at first glance may seem to have little to do with one another. What do they share? They’re all programmatic approaches to improving health that benefit communities of people. Each of these core areas has a number of job opportunities associated with it.

• Environmental Health: What effects do natural and manmade surroundings have on human health? The environmental health career track includes those specialists who inspect the quality of air, food and water, as well as engineers and ecologists concerned with all aspects of waste management, housing inspectors looking for trace minerals that could lead to childhood illnesses, scientists who devise radiation protections and even those professionals who enforce noise pollution codes.

• Biostatistics: Biostatistics uses mathematical principles and statistical methods to identify and analyze health trends within a human population or smaller community. Many different industries are interested in determining the causes of diseases and injuries. As a biostatistician, you may find yourself working for a pharmaceutical company analyzing the effectiveness of a new medication, or working for the Center of Disease Control looking at the risk factors behind the latest influenza pandemic.

• Behavioral Science / Health Education: Health educators and specialists in behavioral health science develop education programs and other promotional campaigns designed to persuade community members to adopt healthier lifestyles and to engage in activities that will minimize their exposure to disease and injury. Health educators work in a wide variety of environments including hospitals, schools, outpatient clinics, nonprofits, and the local, state and federal government.

• Epidemiology: Epidemiologists are the frontline researchers who investigate outbreaks of diseases and figure out ways to control its spread. This specialty is closely linked to Biostatistics. Frequently epidemiologists are experienced clinicians who are already licensed to work as physicians.

• Health Services Administration/Management: Health services administrators are the executives who manage hospitals, patient care clinics, extended care facilities and other institutions where healthcare is delivered on a regular basis.

• Maternal and Child Health: Maternal and child health specialists are professionals whose particular professional interest is the relationship between mothers and their children up through the age of three. Their work is diverse, and can range from everything between educating a mother-to-be about the dangerous effects of smoking on her unborn child to vaccinating a three year old against whooping cough. Frequently the Maternal and Child Health specialty is pursued by a clinician who already has experience as a healthcare provider, like a nurse or a nurse practitioner.

• Nutrition: Public health nutritionists examine the effects that foods, nutrients and eating behaviors have on the wellness of a population.

• International/Global Health: International public health specialists work in each of the areas described above but against the backdrop of different countries and cultures across the world. Professionals in this field can be program managers in international relief organizations, epidemiologists tracking disease outbreaks in third world countries, or health educators teaching the rudiments of hygiene in crowded city clinics.

• Public Health Laboratory Scientists: Bacteriologists, microbiologists, biochemists and other laboratory scientists working in a public health context use a variety of laboratory techniques to screen samples, looking for microscopic pathogens, toxins and other agents that cause disease. The samples may be from food, water, the body fluids of living organisms, soil or any vector implicated in the spread of disease.

• Public Health Policy: Many pieces of legislation are written and implemented with public health goals in mind: two that come immediately to mind are motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws, and warning labels on the sides of cigarette packages. Public health policy professionals are workers who campaign for legislative health reforms in both in the nonprofit sector and at the local, state and federal level of government.

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