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What’s the Precise Definition of ‘Public Health’, Anyway?

If you’re interested in a career in the medical industry, becoming a nurse or doctor are not your only options. Public health is one field that is popular for students interested in healthcare, but if you aren’t currently working in this field, you may not know what public health even means.

Public health has two main goals:

  • Preventing health problems
  • Keeping the overall population healthy with prolonged life

In short, the field of public health isn’t about curing disease or treating patients. It is about finding ways to ensure that health problems never happen in the first place. Public health workers are employed in a variety of fields to improve the quality of life for the general population.

Public health is deeply rooted in government programs, and in the United States, this ranges from positions in local health agencies to working as the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service. Some of the tasks involved with public health include the following:

  • Developing vaccinations
  • Preventing the spread of infectious disease
  • Preventing food and water contamination
  • Educating the general public about health concerns
  • Controlling the population through sex education and contraceptive distribution
  • Providing government programs to those who cannot afford health insurance
  • Encouraging healthy eating and exercising habits
  • Passing safety laws
  • Planning response tactics for natural disaster relief
  • Encouraging children not to start smoking
  • Building better healthcare facilities
  • Teaching expecting parents about infant care
  • Studying environmental pollutants’ impacts on health

This is not be far an exhaustive list, and there is, of course, crossover between public health and many other fields. For example, public health workers can also be educators, teaching driver’s safety classes or physical education classes at high schools. Public health workers can also be veterinarians, studying zoonotic disease, which are medical conditions that can be passed from animals to humans, or can also be lobbyists in Washington, D.C., working to pass anti-smoking or food safety laws. The field of public health is very broad. Over time, work in public health has ensured that, on average, human beings live longer, healthier lives. Developing countries are still in need of thousands of public health workers to play “catch up” with countries like the United States and Great Britain.

If you want to work in the field of public health, getting your masters of public health is the best way to qualify for top positions. From there, you can also go on to get a doctorate degree in this field, though these programs are relatively new, and most people find that a master’s degree in public health is the best choice in terms of which degree to get. You can specialize in any number of areas when you get your master’s degree in order to enter the field of public health in an area that works for you.

Top Online MPH – Master in Public Health Degrees

Public health is the science of preventing disease and promoting health at the population level. Since the late 1970s, public health degrees (specifically the MPH) have evolved from a second degree for doctors and other medical professionals to a primary degree in its own right, with six core disciplines: behavioral science, biostatistics, environmental science, epidemiology, health education/promotion, and health services administration. These disciplines of public health are taught online by the schools listed below.

Walden University
Walden University's Master of Public Health degree program is designed to fill the increasing need for health professionals that are knowledgeable on the development of healthy individuals, organizations, and communities. The program provides a core education in the public health field, uses a real-world teaching methodology, has industry leading professors, and a practical fieldwork practicum. Walden also offers an MPA degree in health policy.
Grand Canyon University
GCU has a flexible online Master of Public Health degree that helps to accommodate adults who are already working. The program is designed to allow students to apply contemporary public health theory to real-world situations, and to engage in research.
Capella University
The Master of Public Health program at Capella University prepares graduates for careers in public health management, social welfare, or research. Emphases within Capella's MPH program include health policy and social science. The curriculum explores the behavioral, psychological, and social factors that contribute to the health of populations. Courses include Principles of Biostatistics, International Public Health, and Environmental Health Concepts in Public Health.
Kaplan University
The Kaplan University Master of Public Health degree program prepares students for healthcare careers in governmental, nonprofit, and private organizations. The convenient, online program teaches students how to analyze and apply scientific research, prepare public health policies, develop health education programs, and review the impact of occupational and environmental factors. Kaplan offers various specializations within their MPH program, including epidemiology, health program development, and health education & promotion

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