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Prepared for Public Health

I am a Biology student at St. John's hoping to work in public health research - specifically the spread of diseases in vulnerable communities, such as low income or in prisons or nursing homes. As I enter my final year of undergrad, which types of classes would help prepare me to branch into this field? #public-health #social-work


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Steven’s Answer

coursera.org has a variety of courses on Epidemiology and related disciplines that you can audit for free. Epidemiology is such a protean field that I wonder if there is any science that does not impinge on it.
You will need a grounding in the application of the scientific method to Epidemiological studies beyond simple descriptive statistics but ultimately issues concerning cause and effect. Just remember that correlation does not necessarily prove causality and there are so many subtle ways a study can be biased.
A course on Immunology would give you a good idea of how the body responds to infection and what may be involved in susceptibility to disease. It has however gotten very very detailed into the biochemistry of the matter so brush up on your fundamentals of Chemistry and learn some biochemistry (I'm doing that myself).
You will be concerned about the mechanisms of transmission and it's prevention which gets into issues of Hygiene and its communication to the Public. I think Nurse Charania's advice on taking some nursing courses pass/fail would be helpful in this regard. It also would keep you grounded in the human side of medicine. Remember that every population is made up of individuals.
I think only Sociology is the really the only science that deals with the problem of poverty and discrimination. Frankly I wish Sociologists were more scientifically rigourous and less ideological but some of their ideas may be helpful. The World Health Organisation has courses you can also take for free and their reports may give you a sense of the appalling health problems of less developed countries.
I hope this helps,
Steve

Wow, thank you so much for your help! Elise F.

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Sanober’s Answer

Hi Elise!

That's an incredible field to pursue. I would recommend taking an epidemiology course, a course in population health, and if you are allowed into any nursing courses, those would be great to take (maybe as a pass or fail course) so that you can learn about vulnerable communities through the eyes of nurses in order to better understand public health as a whole. You can also look into finding ways to visit/volunteer at low-income prisons and/or nursing homes to see firsthand and gain data on what makes up the disparities in these populations.

I hope this helps :)

Sanober

I never considered nursing course, but that's a great idea. Thank you so much! Elise F.

I LOVE that you took the time to say thank you, Elise! CareerVillage volunteers love that and it's such an important practice to keep up. Good luck with your journey, Elise! We are rooting for you. yoonji KIM

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