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How to Become a Public Health Practitioner

Photo: How to Become a Public Health Practitioner
Thanks to our world-class public healthcare system, strong economic growth, clean air and ample open space, Australia is today one of the world’s healthiest countries. We also enjoy the 4th highest life expectancy on the planet according to the World Health Organisation, with the average Aussie reaching the ripe old age of 82 years – only the Singaporeans, Swiss and Japanese can expect to be around on this earth for longer than us. It also helps that we’re a largely active population, with sport a national obsession and the current trend towards ‘healthy eating, healthy living’ further pointing us in the right direction.

At the same, our dedicated healthcare workforce is busy behind the scenes dealing with the challenges of our ageing baby boom cohort and rapidly growing cities. An important part of this workforce are public health practitioners whose focus is on improving the quality of life for all members of the Australian community, through promoting an evidence-based approach to healthcare. So how can you become a public health practitioner?
Public Health Jobs: What do they involve?

As the title suggests, public health jobs are part of the large Health Care and Social Assistance sector, which happens to be the fastest growing field of employment in Australia – thanks to the powerful demographic forces previously mentioned. It follows that professionals in this role are responsible for advocating or promoting the benefits of evidence-based healthcare policies and approaches within specific communities, with the ultimate aim of improving health outcomes in those communities. Public health jobs are typically found in both public sector (government) or NGO (Non-Government Organisation) bodies, although private companies may hire for this role internally to improve employee wellbeing and productivity.

  •  An Example of a Public Health Job: A common example of a public health job in Australia would involve working with a government-funded community health clinic that serves a rural community that otherwise has limited access to conventional healthcare. A role of this nature would involve working directly alongside doctors and nurses to promote sound health practices amongst members of that community – including vaccinating their children, practicing basic dental hygiene and following a balanced diet. The end goal – like with all jobs in healthcare is to prevent disease and collectively promote the overall wellbeing of community members.

Public Health Jobs: Key Roles & Responsibilities? 

Now that you hopefully have a better idea of what public health jobs involve and what their ultimate aims are, let’s turn our attention to specific roles and responsibilities you may experience on a day-to-day basis. These include:

COMMUNITY CONSULTATION
  • Working alongside qualified medical doctors and nurses within hospitals or healthcare bodies to identify healthcare challenges specific to the community you serve
  • Meeting members of those communities on a one-on-one basis to hear their stories and ascertain the obstacles they face in terms of their physical health and overall wellbeing

HEALTH PROMOTION
  • Devising practical strategies or plans which can be implemented in your organisation or the communities you serve to address the previously identified health and wellbeing challenges
  • Working directly with relevant stakeholders (employees, external community groups and/or community members) to implement relevant health promotion strategies – including via practical workshops, individual health care plans or one-on-one consultation sessions

EDUCATION & TRAINING
  • Keeping up to date on healthcare policy at state and federal government levels, including funding available to support health promotion activities at the local level
  • Attending training/professional development events to maintain a working knowledge of public health practices and new treatment options

What Should I Study to Become a Public Health Practitioner in Australia? 

The first step towards becoming a public health practitioner in Australia is to undertake undergraduate study in the medical or healthcare field, such as the three-year Bachelor of Public Health at Monash University. If you are already a medical or healthcare professional with one to two years’ relevant industry or management experience, Monash Online’s two-year Master of Public Health (MPH) could be your ideal pathway. As an online degree, the benefits of studying a Master of Public Health are numerous – including the flexibility of combining full-time work and study if you wish, the ability to study wherever you are, whenever you want, not to mention the recognition you’ll gain from completing a degree with one of Australia’s top universities.

Ready to build a rewarding career as a public health practitioner in Australia’s fast-growing healthcare sector? Visit Monash Online to learn more about our two-year online Master of Public Health and Apply Now.

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