Public health is a far reaching field of study with a strong basis in science. One of the easiest ways to define the subject matter is by comparing it to clinical health, which has an emphasis on the individual diagnosis and treatment of disease. By contrast, public health studies the overall wellness of a population and focuses on prevention of disease and the promotion of better health standards. Public health may refer to the population of a single neighborhood or a complete world region. It is the role of the public health professional to prevent health problems in a population through education and by recommending legislation, conducting research and providing health care services.
Careers After an Online Public Health Degree
Graduates with a degree in public health will have a myriad of job opportunities awaiting them. Some graduates become policy advisors in a legislative or management capacity. These individuals may help create and direct policies that help promote public health. Other graduates with a degree in public health become epidemiologists. This science is the study of the causes and effects of disease in particular populations. Career options also include becoming a health educator or a behavior scientist. Still others may seek employment as a public health lawyer, an environmentalist in state or federal government or a corporate medical director. Some graduates who enjoy writing may find work as a journalist that reports on public health issues or as a communications specialist for a government entity.
Online Public Health Degrees
Most entry level jobs in public health require at least a bachelor of science degree. In many cases, workers must have a Master of Public Health. Some professions, like epidemiology, may require individuals to be a physician or hold some other doctoral level education. Nonetheless, Bachelor of Science in Public Health online degree programs are widely available. Because of the great diversity of subject matter that is enveloped within public health, many of these programs require students to select an area of concentration. Perhaps students will choose to focus on disaster and emergency management, the promotion of health and wellness, psychology and behavior as they relate to health or cultural diversity and health.
Typical Classes for Online Public Health Degree Programs
The choice of course in any degree program will vary widely depending upon the student’s chosen concentration area. However, most programs begin with a more general overview of public health, which provides a foundation for specialization. Most programs begin with a course that explores the principles of public health. Students learn about the history of public health and the basic philosophies and goals of this area of study. Other courses uncover facts about health care policy and how it is enacted and how it affects the lives of a population. Other classes may delve into the effect of culture and behavior on public health or disease and prevention. Students will also encounter explorations of environmental health and methods of conducting and evaluating research.
Courses become increasingly specialized as the student progresses through the degree program. Nonetheless, most programs require that the student complete some type of in depth project before graduation. These projects typically involve a great deal of research and may help the student discover a new focus for their intended career.
Professional Organizations for Public Health
Many organizations provide networking, support and continuing education for public health professionals. Many of these are specifically linked to the particular role chosen by the individual. Still, most professionals working in this field choose to become involved in the American Public Health Association. The association produces informative publications that help professionals stay on top of the latest trends and developments in the arena of public health. Educational and networking opportunities are also readily available through membership and regular online presentations help to keep members active and involved. Through the association, members may also help to shape legislation related to public health.