5 Growing Specializations in the Public Health Field
- Environmental Health
- Public Policy
- Public Health Education
- Global Health
Some people may think of public health jobs as involving work at a community health clinic, but there are many growing areas within public health in a variety of specialties. These may range from analyzing data to working to change government policy to helping prevent pandemics and more.
Related resource: Top 25 Online MPH Programs (Masters of Public Health)
1. Environmental Health
Environmental health addresses the effect of the environment on public health including access to safe water, making sure people are not exposed to a hazardous material at home or in the workplace, and safe hygiene. Jobs in environmental health might focus on fieldwork in which people take samples of soil or water or they may focus on public education or legislative challenges. Environmental health might examine the impact of genetics and culture as well. Climate change may drive this as a growing area in public health since it is likely to affect a number of different health concerns ranging from public safety to access to clean water and more.
Epidemiology looks at how disease is spread so that it can be prevented. Epidemiologists examine patterns, risk factors, and causes of disease. They may design studies or collect and analyze data. Epidemiologists may work for local public departments, for federal agencies or for global health organizations. Epidemiologists usually specialize in a particular area, such as chronic disease, occupational health or mental health.
3. Public Policy
People who work in public policy draw information from other areas of public health and try to improve public health for large numbers of people by dealing with government agencies and legislators. They might analyze data and present reports. They might also work directly for government agencies themselves such as the National Institutes of Health. Jobs in public policy are usually not entry-level jobs but are something people move into after getting education and experience in a particular area of public health.
4. Public Health Education
Public health education is the type of job that may more closely resemble what people think of when they imagine public health careers. Public health educators may work in schools, healthcare facilities, nonprofits or public health departments among other places. They might create educational materials or programs, do talks or meet with people one-on-one to discuss preventative health or how to manage a particular condition. This is a growing area within public health, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of health education and community health workers is expected to grow much faster than average.
5. Global Health
People who work in global health may specialize in some of the same areas mentioned above but do so on a global scale. They may work on preventing pandemics or on improving health care systems in countries with few resources. Some might specialize in a particular area, such as tropical diseases or maternal health. Overall, global health as a public health focus is dedicated to reducing disparities in health care availability and resources throughout the world. This is likely to continue to be a growing area of public health as health care challenges keep emerging on a global scale.
These are only a few of the areas in which people working in public health might specialize. As the world population continues to increase, new diseases emerge, and health management becomes more complicated, these and other concentrations will continue to be growing areas in public health.