One of the common areas of specialization for individuals earning a Master of Public Health is the growing sector of Epidemiology.
What is Epidemiology?
Epidemiology is the science that studies the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. The cornerstone of public health, Epidemiology, influences policy decisions and evidence-based practices by identifying risk factors for disease and targets that improve preventive healthcare. Epidemiologists are those professionals who study design, collection, and statistical analysis of data, and interpretation and dissemination of results.
What Are Some of the Areas of Responsibly for an Epidemiologist?
These skilled professionals plan and direct the study of public health problems in the community and the world in order to find ways of preventing and treating the problems. Day to day responsibilities may include:
- Collecting and analyzing data including using observations, interviews, surveys, and samples of blood or other bodily fluids in order to find the causes of diseases or other health problems
- Communicating findings to health practitioners, policymakers, and the public
- Managing public health programs by planning programs, monitoring progress, analyzing data, and seeking ways to improve them, among other activities
- Supervising professional, technical, and clerical personnel
What is the Job Outlook For Those Pursuing Careers in Epidemiology?
According to statistics published by the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Epidemiologists held about 5,100 jobs in 2012. The median annual wage for an epidemiologist was $65,270 in May 2012 and employment is projected to grow by approximately ten percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The continued improvements in medical record keeping will lead to improving epidemiologists’ ability to track health outcomes, demographic data, and other valuable data. Improvements in statistical and mapping software will continue to improve the quality of analysis, make epidemiological data more useful, and increase demand for epidemiologists.
What is the Work Environment for an Epidemiologist?
Work environments in Epidemiology vary widely because of the diverse nature of epidemiological specializations. Epidemiologists work in offices and labs in State and local government health departments, in hospitals, and at colleges and universities. Most research epidemiologists spend their time studying data and reports in an office setting. In-state and local government public health departments, epidemiologists may be more active in the community and may travel a significant amount to support community education efforts or to administer studies and surveys. In 2012, fifty-two percent of epidemiologists worked for state and local governments, excluding education and hospitals.
What are Some of the Areas of Specialization in Epidemiology?
Epidemiologists can choose to specialize in a variety of disease areas that include chronic disease, infectious disease, environmental/occupational diseases, bioterrorism and emergency response, oral health, substance abuse, reproductive health, maternal and child health, and research about general health care.
What are Some of the Specialization Areas Available for Professionals with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology?
- Genetic epidemiology combines aspects of statistics, population genetics, classical epidemiology, human genetics, and public health genomics to understand the role of genes and the genome; environmental factors; and interactions between these in determining a particular trait of interest.
- Infectious diseases epidemiology monitors what the occurrence is for infectious diseases in populations and how to develop strategies for preventing and controlling disease.
- Epidemiology of Aging addresses health problems in the aging population including sleep disorders, menopause, cardiovascular disease, dementia, eye diseases, hearing loss, olfactory impairment, subclinical atherosclerosis, and quality of life.
- Environmental Epidemiology used in determining the relationships between contaminants in the environment and the changes in the ecosystem and public health effects and developing strategies for preventing and controlling environmentally-related disease
With an average annual salary of $65,270 per year and a huge potential employment growth rate, a career in Public Health as an Epidemiologist could be a rewarding and exciting career path for those with graduate degrees.