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What are some career options in Public Health and what does it involve?

I am soon to be graduating with a Biology degree, but am really unsure about what I want to do with it. I do not particularly want to go into lab science, and definitely want to go to grad school after college. Entering a master’s program for public health is definitely something that I am considering, but I do wonder if I am qualified/if I am at a disadvantage since I did not major in it. However, I feel like I don’t know exactly what careers a Master’s program can lead to and if this is a field that is already saturated/has good job prospects in the future. So if someone could help me learn more about this realm of healthcare, please help me out! Up until now, I had been considering options like becoming a PA or going to the med school route but I want to keep myself open to options like this as it really does interest me! I should also mention the specific areas of Public Health I am interested in are both microbiology and epidemiology. #publichealth #health-sciences #health-administration #public-health #career-paths #higher-education #health #microbiology


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Helene (Eleni)’s Answer

I don't have a public health background but I am a career advisor at the university level so can provide some advice for exploring. I've seen some community health roles in the non-profit space and even in local hospitals, private clinics, etc that could be worth exploring! If grad school is a strong consideration right after you graduate, start the research now on which Masters in Public Health Programs have specific undergraduate degree requirements and if you have those.

I've seen some roles at City of Hope, AltaMed, Dignity Health, that could be great entry level opportunities in the community health space!

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Glenn’s Answer

I want to provide you with a different path of exploration.
Public health would likely fit if you want to work in policy oriented programs.
If your are not sure, this may be valuable...

There is a company called Danaher that you likely have never heard of. They own high technology companies across a wide range of fields. The have great programs for new grads and their fields are very diverse yet focused. They own the whole vertical. For example in Dentistry, they have companies that supply the furniture, to the implant screws that hold crowns in place and all of the diagnostic equipment in between. They do the same in microbiology, water treatment, healthcare and life sciences, etc...
Each company element has engineers, sales, support and technicians.

The reason I am bringing this up is to see if any of these companies inspire or excite you to learn more. I do not work for them but they were my client for 6 years. I was fascinated by their passion and ability to let people move across companies.

For everyone that has interest in health, finding your area of focus is a journey. Feel free to connect with me via linked in and I will be available to discover where your passions lie to help you think about careers that I never knew existed until I learned about them.

When I first went into industry on my first real job, I discovered I loved 3D computer graphics, then manufacturing, then computers, dabbled in patent law, and ultimately CRM and consulting to help companies grow faster. You will likely find passion by discovery, exposure and experience. If you can tell great stories that help a client see a vision, you may be a natural sales person ( even if you are not, this can be learned since no matter what you do, you will need to be a story teller - getting great at 30 second stories will be a life skill you can always use) .

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Fab’s Answer

Public health is a growing field and is multidisciplinary. Students in MPH programs come from all different areas of study such as biology, psychology, policy, anthropology, sociology, etc. Some have worked as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers and want to learn a public health approach.

An MPH will include many different types of classes such as statistics, epidemiology, health policy, population health, and healthcare management to prepare you to be a well-rounded public health professional. MPH programs will also require you to chose a focus (such as epidemiology) to strengthen your skills and expertise in an area of interest.

There are many different career paths you can take in public health. If you are interested in microbiology and epidemiology, some related careers could be epidemiology, biostatistics, research, and infection control. Some different paths public health professionals take include project management, health education/promotion, program evaluation, data analytics, policy, quality improvement, healthcare administration. Different types of public health employers include: health departments, hospitals and health systems, non-profit organizations, universities, global health organizations, consulting groups, NGOs, and research organizations, and healthcare startups.

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Melissa’s Answer

Public health is a fantastic field with many job opportunities!

To give you a general idea, those with MPH degrees work as biostatisticians, epidemiologists, researchers, professors, policy advisers, health educators, health program coordinators and managers - and much more. With your biology background, you could consider becoming an epidemiologist, researcher, or working in microbiology such as in a public health lab. There are even certain programs where you can pursue veterinary public health and study how diseases are spread from animals to humans and so on.

As some others have mentioned, it is helpful to shadow/interview others to learn about what they do and, if possible, get some volunteer or internship experience to have some practical learning and exposure.

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Wendy’s Answer

Hello! I recently graduated with a biology degree and currently working towards going into being dentist and I would suggest shadowing people from different health care fields that you are interested in, this can help a lot in knowing if it is a career you see yourself doing and if it truly interests you. Also, if you do decide on a public health masters and later apply to med school it would put you at an advantage in getting into med school.

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