BY Rich Griset02 May 2022, 13:20
Students attend their graduation ceremony at South Carolina State University, as seen in December 2021, in Orangeburg, South Carolina. (Photo by Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images)
Even before the “Fauci effect” took hold – a term for the heightened interest in medical professions due to the pandemic – the field of public health had already seen steady growth. According to one study, the number of public health degrees awarded increased by more than 300% between 1992 and 2016.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, graduate schools have reported increased enrollment in their Master of Public Health (MPH) programs. After all, the field of public health is dedicated to the science of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health for society as a whole.
Besides the altruistic goals of the degree, an MPH can also help professionals seeking employment.
“When employers hire an MPH, they know, in general, that most MPHs have done certain things and have certain skills,” says Vanessa Lamers, associate director of performance management at Quality Improvement at the Public Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. which aims to support public health personnel. Lamers works with health departments and agencies that hire, onboard, and train MPH students. She also serves as a mentor for the Yale School of Public Health Alumni Mentorship Program and manages PHF’s internship program.
“One of the really cool things about an MPH is that it’s an accredited health degree, so no matter what school or public health program you get your MPH from, you have sort of a basic foundation that you go out with,” Lamers says.
So what careers are available to someone who holds an MPH? Who is the right candidate for an MPH program? Read on to learn more about graduate opportunities.
What careers are open to someone with an MPH degree?
Ask Lamers about career opportunities for an MPH and she’ll tell you that the degree has a wide variety of applications regarding public health.
“It can range from managing people’s health on the ground, to organizational health, through clinical work, caring for individual patients, to analyzing the health of a nation. Anything to do with the health, safety and security of people,” she says. “The sky really is the limit.”
Lamers, who holds an MPH from the Yale School of Public Health, says she pursued her education to help address macro-level public health issues. Students in Master of Public Health programs come from a wide range of backgrounds and learn skills that include epidemiology, health data assessment and evaluation, and data analysis and communication. health information.
Upon graduation, MPH students will be prepared to “examine complex systems and complex problems that affect the health, well-being, and well-being of individuals and determine how to adapt or adapt or repair these process,” says Lamers.
And MPH degrees have wider applications than strictly in the medical field.
“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people’s health and safety is at the forefront of business and the economy,” she said. “Many companies now have in-house health staff, public health staff, whose job it is to keep their employees performing at peak performance, to keep themselves healthy and to make sure they have access to what they need. they need for optimal health.”
MPH holders can work in patient care or in fields such as business, technology, biology, environmental science, public policy, health care management, and laboratory work. Colleagues of Lamers with MPH degrees have developed technology to track and improve people’s health, worked to improve patient care, researched vector-borne diseases, studied water quality and worked in laboratories. .
“It all falls under this umbrella of what you can do in public health,” she says. “There are definitely a lot of people who end up doing epidemiology, data analysis, biostatistics as a career. It’s really fundamental in the MPH program.
Pursue a Masters in Public Health with Concentration
Public health schools differ on whether they offer concentrations for MPH degrees. Examples of concentrations include global health, health policy, environmental health, and epidemiology. Lamers says students should choose a concentration that already interests them and not worry that a concentration will limit their career prospects.
“It doesn’t lock you into anything. Maybe you’re interested in healthcare management, so you’re doing a healthcare management concentration,” she says. “It’s going to teach you a lot of really good management and business skills that will be beneficial no matter where you end up.”
Since MPH programs generally require the same core course base, Lamers says it’s a good idea for students to branch out with their electives to get an introduction to a wide range of subjects.
“You’re always going to have that skill set to lean on,” she says. “Choose what interests you, but don’t feel limited by it.”
How the pandemic has changed career options for people with MPH degrees
While the pandemic has led to an explosion of interest in public health, it has also led to the exhaustion of people on the ground.
“There’s a pretty high level of burnout in working on COVID,” Lamers says. “It’s tricky because [there’s burnout] at a time when we really need to staff the public health workforce and increase the number of qualified people in the public health workforce.
Still, there are plenty of job openings for people with an MPH degree.
“For people coming in, there are a lot of opportunities at all levels, a lot of public health organizations that are hiring and recruiting right now,” Lamers says. “We really need to increase the public health workforce.”
Besides the direct health impacts of COVID-19, Lamers, there are other health issues caused by the pandemic that public health officials are working to address. Missed health screenings by the public and supply chain disruptions in the medical and food systems mean there is a lot to do in the public health space.
“It’s a big challenge that’s going to require a lot of public health people to help with the recovery phase of this pandemic,” Lamers says.
And there are other issues on the horizon that MPH holders will have to address, such as rising sea levels, wildfires, an increasing number of hurricanes, or potentially another pandemic.
“The COVID pandemic is still here, the natural disasters are still there, the next hurricane season is still approaching,” Lamers says. “That certainly hasn’t changed and won’t change anytime soon.”
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