Public health offers one of the most expansive and relevant careers today. Encompassing scientific, socio-economic and environmental analysis and action, the primary aim of public health is to reduce, prevent or eliminate disease and poor health whilst promoting wellbeing amongst a population. Public health is therefore not just limited to research, but also environmental and sociological campaigning, the monitoring of communities and liaising with national and local governments. Experience learned in a subfield of public health is interchangeable with another, so there is great scope for a well-rounded career.
What specific careers could you have in public health?
Working in public health is not just limited to the UK, or indeed the NHS. Public health graduates are highly employable by private health and research organisations globally. Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) also require public health graduates; research specialists, risk management, senior program officers and development consultants are all example roles offered by both NGOs and private organisations across the world. As a graduate of public health, the ability to work in many different countries in different roles is extremely achievable, leading to an exciting lifestyle where you can make a real difference to the world around you.
As according to the Public Health Skills and Career Framework (skillsforhealth.org.uk), we have outlined some typical careers you could have within the public health sphere:
Working in health improvement might involve promoting the importance of health awareness and strong communities to people through development initiatives. Typically a sociological role, you could be involved in pioneering development plans for the community in order to help people make informed choices about leading a healthy lifestyle. You might lead programmes aiming to promoting diversity in the area or raising awareness of mental health issues through community-led workshops.
Health Protection typically relates to the study of potential health risks and their severity before implementing solutions and preventative measures. You might engage in ensuring locals are free from discrimination in the workplace and community, or collecting and collating surveillance data to file reports on risks to local health. You could work in partnership with businesses encouraging them to improve their environmental responsibilities through the increased participation of recycling and sourcing organic or ethical produce.
•Academic Public Health
oUndertaking research into specialist topics to further understanding of key issues for better prevention, awareness and solutions in the future. You could then translate research and findings into active plans to put in place at local, regional or national levels. Whilst teaching the next generation of public health graduates, you could work with them, commissioning proposals into areas of research particularly relevant to new national or international policies.
•Public Health Intelligence
oYou could be charged with appraising the latest research to present compelling evidence to governments that planning for certain action is required, or monitoring risks to public health and wellbeing before compiling reports for academics to assess and evaluate. You could develop new methods to interpret data to further the effectiveness of public health research. Similar to working in academia, public health intelligence is based on an information culture.
•Health and Social Care Quality
Often referred to as clinical governance, you could be responsible for holding health organisations to account, ensuring high standards of patient care is met at all times. You might use research and academic evidence to stimulate necessary change at relevant levels, whilst communicating this to other regions to ensure an equal standard of care nationwide. Clinical auditing and risk management are two example subfields of this speciality.
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