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  • Is a career in Public Health right for you?

    Author: HealthTimes

Public health is all about improving community-wide health outcomes.

There are countless ways to achieve this goal. Research, education and data analysis are all common methods that public health professionals are using for improving health in populations around the world.

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If you’re motivated to work at developing strategies to limit the spread of disease, to reduce the numbers of deaths from drug overdoses, to prevent car accidents, to improve nutrition, and to educate the public about how to improve the quality of their health, you’re probably an ideal candidate for a career in this fascinating niche.

Read on for more details about how to discern whether this could be a viable career path for you.

Public Health Professionals Come From Many Backgrounds


There are many misconceptions about public health careers. One of the most pervasive misconceptions is that public health professionals are all clinical healthcare practitioners who care directly for their patients.

In most cases, this is not accurate; public health professionals tend to be educators, statisticians, data analysts, researchers or even government advisors.

Rather than treating individual patients, public health professionals are generally concerned with figuring out how to improve health conditions for entire populations of people.

While it is true that many public health professionals have worked as healthcare practitioners, they don’t have to specifically come from a medical background.

Some public health professionals start by studying economics, psychology, sociology or other disciplines.

So don’t worry if you haven’t already been working as a doctor or a nurse; public health careers are open to individuals who have never been clinical practitioners.

Public Health Professionals Must Understand Statistics and Data

Many public health jobs require candidates to have acquired some expertise in basic arithmetic plus algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics. For example, you typically need this knowledge if you hope to become an epidemiologist, a health promotion officer or a medical administrator. Some specific jobs within this niche have even more rigorous prerequisites; you’ll frequently find job descriptions in this sector that require knowledge of computer programming and advanced data analytics. 

So if you love data and statistics, this could be the right career path for you; but if you have no interest in maths, be aware that there are likely to be some aspects of this career path that will be uncomfortable or downright challenging for you.

Detail-Oriented People Make the Best Public Health Workers

Public health research requires precision and accuracy. Observations must be made, studies or experiments must be conducted and accurate conclusions must be drawn.

Each step of the process requires a keen eye for details.

Curiosity Is Also a Helpful Trait

Solid health research often starts with relevant questions.

A curious nature can help to supply the questions that need to be answered through research.

Critical Thinking Skills are an Asset

Public health professionals tend to do ground-breaking work.

There isn’t necessarily going to be an existing step-by-step instruction manual for the work you’ll be doing in this sector; in many cases, it will be up to you to forge the path your work takes.

This career path will require you to think critically and make difficult decisions.

You Will Need an Assertive, Persistent Nature and a Strong Moral Compass

Public health professionals do rewarding work, but their jobs are rarely easy.

One of the most challenging aspects of jobs in this field: You will inevitably meet people who disagree with your conclusions and your recommendations to protect public health.

Some of these people may even do horrifying things like threaten you or your colleagues.

If you don’t possess an assertive nature, you’re likely to have a hard time standing up to the naysayers you encounter on the job.

Beyond that, a strong moral compass will help to reassure you that you’re doing the right thing and should carry on, even at times when you are encountering opposition to your work.

These are some of the most useful skills and characteristics for the aspiring public health professional to possess.

If you have already cultivated many of the above-mentioned skills, you’d likely be an outstanding candidate for a career in public health.

However, no worries if you don’t have all of them; in fact, some of these skills can be obtained through the right university degree program.

For example, if you haven’t already learned the collaboration skills, math skills or critical thinking skills you need, university is one of the most straightforward ways to acquire them.

Hopefully now you’re better equipped to determine if a public health career could be the right choice for you.


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