You may have heard of this growing profession—but what exactly is it?
The first thing you should know: Those in the public health field are helping to solve the world’s most pressing health problems. An education in public health starts in the classroom, but continues to evolve after graduation and into professional life.
In the medical field, clinicians treat diseases and injuries on a patient-to-patient basis. However, in public health, we prevent disease and injury within our communities as a whole. Public health professionals identify the causes of disability and disease, and implement population-driven solutions.
For example, instead of treating an overweight individual, we work to identify the causes of obesity and develop interventions. Instead of examining a drug-addicted newborn, we investigate the factors at work and we develop programs to keep parents and their babies healthy. Instead of prescribing medication for high blood pressure, we explore the links among diabetes, obesity and heart disease—and we use our data collection skills to impact policy aimed at minimizing all three conditions.
Today, public health includes areas as wide-ranging as epidemiology, chronic disease, mental health, disaster response, refugee health, injury prevention and tobacco control.
Need more examples of real-life public health work? Recent projects here at Marshall University include:
- Identifying ways to control childhood and adult obesity in our region
- Developing breast cancer research tactics within our medical communities
- Traveling to underserved populations to administer free health screenings
- Studying secondhand tobacco smoke levels and exposure
- Promoting technologies that make clean and safe drinking water
- Advocating for policies that protect the global environment and sustainable practices
- Establishing global connections in Tanzania, India and many other countries in regard to preventative health outcomes
In the past century, public health initiatives have improved lives worldwide, including increasing life expectancy by almost 30 years in the United States. The development and application of population-based prevention programs will continue improving health outcomes for many years to come.
Does this sound like the perfect career for you? Join us in Marshall University’s Department of Public Health and help make a difference in the world you live in.