Becoming a Public Health Professional

Public Health Professionals are Individuals Dedicated to Improving the Health of Communities and Populations Through Various Strategies and Interventions

March 12, 2024
Students packing boxes full of food to feed hungry people

Public Health Professionals work across different sectors to address public health issues and promote wellness on a broader scale. They analyze and develop programs that protect the health of individuals, families, and communities.

From studying disease patterns to implementing preventive programs, their work encompasses a wide range of responsibilities aimed at promoting health equity and addressing public health challenges. If you're interested in pursuing a career in public health, this guide will provide you with the necessary steps to embark on this rewarding journey.

Educational Background

There are a few ways to become a public health professional, the first is earning a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as public health, biology, or social sciences.

A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Health provides a foundational understanding of public health principles, theories, and practices. The studies cover a broad range of topics including epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy, environmental health, and social and behavioral sciences.

While a BS in Public Health provides a general introduction to the field and prepares individuals for entry-level positions, a Masters’ in Public Health (MPH) degree allows for specialization and provides the skills and knowledge necessary for leadership roles in public health. The decision between the two degrees depends on your career goals and the level of expertise you aim to achieve in the field of public health.

Getting an MPH is typically a 1 to 2-year program, and builds on the foundational knowledge acquired at the undergraduate level with in-depth, specialized training in specific areas of public health. The prerequisites are usually just a bachelor's degree to enroll in an MPH program. Advanced education allows for specialization in areas such as epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy and management, environmental health, and global health. It also includes practical experience through internships or research projects.

Graduates with an MPH are often qualified for leadership and managerial roles in public health organizations, research institutions, governmental health agencies, and international health organizations.

Roles Public Health Professionals Work

Public health professionals work in various settings, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, academia, and health care institutions, providing diverse career opportunities and avenues for professional growth and development.

Epidemiologists: Study patterns and causes of diseases, identifying risk factors and developing strategies for disease prevention and control.

Health Educators: Develop and implement programs to promote health education and behavior change within communities.

Environmental Health Specialists: Assess and address environmental factors that can affect public health, such as air and water quality, food safety, and sanitation.

Policy Analysts: Analyze and develop health policies at local, national, and international levels to address public health concerns and promote health equity.

Public Health Clinicians: Provide direct care to individuals and communities, focusing on preventive measures and health promotion initiatives.

Skills and Qualities

Public health professionals possess a combination of analytical and communication skills, critical thinking, interpersonal skills, and knowledge of public health issues. Additionally, a passion for improving community health and a commitment to addressing health disparities are essential qualities for success in this field.

Gaining practical experience through internships, research projects, or volunteer work in public health or related fields can enhance your qualifications and make you a more competitive candidate.

Why Enroll in an MPH program?

Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree offers numerous benefits, as it equips individuals with advanced knowledge and skills in public health, preparing them for a wide range of roles in the field. Here are some specific benefits and potential career opportunities associated with having an MPH:

Specialization: MPH programs typically offer opportunities for specialization in specific areas of public health. Common specializations include epidemiology, health policy and management, environmental health, global health, maternal and child health, and community health. This specialization allows individuals to tailor their education to their specific interests and career goals and contribute to evidence-based solutions.

Leadership and Management Skills: MPH programs often include coursework and experiences that develop leadership and management skills. Graduates are prepared to take on supervisory, managerial, and leadership roles in public health organizations, health care institutions, and governmental agencies.

Research and Analytical Skills: MPH programs emphasize research methodologies, data analysis, and critical thinking skills. Graduates are equipped to conduct and interpret public health research, contribute to policy development, and assess the effectiveness of public health interventions.

Global Health Opportunities: Many MPH programs offer a global health focus, preparing individuals to address health challenges on an international scale. This can open opportunities to work with international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or government agencies involved in global health initiatives.

Policy Influence: Graduates with an MPH may work in policy and advocacy roles, influencing public health policy at local, national, or international levels. They can contribute to the development, implementation, and evaluation of public health policies that impact communities and populations.

Public Health Education: MPH holders may pursue roles in public health education, teaching and training the next generation of public health professionals.

Overall, the MPH is a versatile and respected degree that provides a strong foundation for individuals seeking to make a positive impact on public health and well-being. The specific career opportunities depend on the chosen specialization and individual career goals.

Why Touro University California (TUC)?

The Council on Education for Public Health accredited MPH Program at TUC focuses on social justice as a framework for promoting health equity in local and global communities. We train our students to understand and address the significance of how historical roots and structural issues drive health inequities and explore strategies to improve community and population health.

  1. Social Justice Framework: TUC's MPH program stands out for its strong emphasis on social justice. The curriculum is woven with a social justice thread, allowing students to understand and address the historical roots and structural issues that drive health inequities. This unique approach sets TUC apart in its commitment to fostering a socially conscious and responsible generation of public health professionals.
  2. Online Accessibility: The MPH program at TUC is designed to accommodate the needs of working professionals. All coursework is 100% online, offering flexibility without the requirement for campus residencies. This flexibility allows individuals to pursue their education while balancing other professional and personal commitments.
  3. Comprehensive Curriculum: The 42-credit master's degree program covers core courses, concentration courses, electives, and a culminating experience. Students can choose concentrations in Community Health, Global Health, or Health Equity and Criminal Justice. The curriculum includes essential disciplines such as Biostatistics, Behavioral and Social Aspects of Public Health, Epidemiology, Health Policy & Management, Environmental Health, Program Evaluation, and Research Methods.
  4. Clinical Tracks and Dual Degrees: TUC provides additional pathways for students interested in clinical practice. The Joint Degree (MSPAS/MPH) and Dual Degree (DO/MPH) tracks integrate public health knowledge with clinical training. This interdisciplinary approach enhances students' skill sets and prepares them for roles that bridge the gap between clinical and public health practice.
  5. Focus on Under-resourced Communities: TUC actively engages with under-resourced communities, aiming to build effective responses to public health problems. This hands-on approach provides students with practical experiences and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by communities with limited resources.
  6. Unique Concentration in Criminal Justice: TUC's MPH program stands out as the only CEPH-accredited program offering a concentration in criminal justice. This specialization allows students to explore the intersection of public health and criminal justice, addressing health issues within the context of the criminal justice system.
  7. Leadership and Research Opportunities: The program aims to develop leaders in health research, education, and policymaking. By offering a supportive environment and comprehensive training, TUC prepares students to take on leadership roles in the field of public health and contribute meaningfully to research and policy initiatives.

Becoming a public health professional requires a combination of education, skills, practical experience, and a commitment to improving community health and addressing public health challenges. By following the steps outlined in this guide and embracing the opportunities and challenges that come with a career in public health, you can embark on a fulfilling journey dedicated to promoting health equity and making a positive impact on the world around you.

To learn more: Public Health Programs at TUC