What’s the Precise Definition of ‘Public Health’, Anyway?
If you’re interested in a career in the medical industry, becoming a nurse or doctor are not your only options. Public health is one field that is popular for students interested in healthcare, but if you aren’t currently working in this field, you may not know what public health even means.
Public health has two main goals:
- Preventing health problems
- Keeping the overall population healthy with prolonged life
In short, the field of public health isn’t about curing disease or treating patients. It is about finding ways to ensure that health problems never happen in the first place. Public health workers are employed in a variety of fields to improve the quality of life for the general population.
Public health is deeply rooted in government programs, and in the United States, this ranges from positions in local health agencies to working as the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service. Some of the tasks involved with public health include the following:
- Developing vaccinations
- Preventing the spread of infectious disease
- Preventing food and water contamination
- Educating the general public about health concerns
- Controlling the population through sex education and contraceptive distribution
- Providing government programs to those who cannot afford health insurance
- Encouraging healthy eating and exercising habits
- Passing safety laws
- Planning response tactics for natural disaster relief
- Encouraging children not to start smoking
- Building better healthcare facilities
- Teaching expecting parents about infant care
- Studying environmental pollutants’ impacts on health
This is not be far an exhaustive list, and there is, of course, crossover between public health and many other fields. For example, public health workers can also be educators, teaching driver’s safety classes or physical education classes at high schools. Public health workers can also be veterinarians, studying zoonotic disease, which are medical conditions that can be passed from animals to humans, or can also be lobbyists in Washington, D.C., working to pass anti-smoking or food safety laws. The field of public health is very broad. Over time, work in public health has ensured that, on average, human beings live longer, healthier lives. Developing countries are still in need of thousands of public health workers to play “catch up” with countries like the United States and Great Britain.
If you want to work in the field of public health, getting your masters of public health is the best way to qualify for top positions. From there, you can also go on to get a doctorate degree in this field, though these programs are relatively new, and most people find that a master’s degree in public health is the best choice in terms of which degree to get. You can specialize in any number of areas when you get your master’s degree in order to enter the field of public health in an area that works for you.
Top Online MPH – Master in Public Health Degrees
Public health is the science of preventing disease and promoting health at the population level. Since the late 1970s, public health degrees (specifically the MPH) have evolved from a second degree for doctors and other medical professionals to a primary degree in its own right, with six core disciplines: behavioral science, biostatistics, environmental science, epidemiology, health education/promotion, and health services administration. These disciplines of public health are taught online by the schools listed below.
Looking for an MPH degree?
Use the degree finder below, and we'll help you find a Master of Public Health program.