Choosing Public Health Career  


K. Peterson
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Joined: 6 years ago
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April 14, 2014 9:40 am  


I have a B.S. in Math and a M.A. in Education. I worked for one year as a middle school math teacher and for one year as an English teacher in South America. I love the act of teaching, but do not enjoy everything that comes with the job. I am interested in a career related to public health or healthcare. I would like to find a job where I'm working with the public, but also one where I can use my math/analytical skills. I am willing to go back to school to change careers. I have considered epidemiology, but am afraid that this job would be too removed from directly working with the public. Any thoughts?

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April 14, 2014 8:28 pm  

I wouldn't worry too much: as with most things, it depends more on what you do with your degree than what degree it is. Engineers, Masters of Public Health , Epidemiologists, MDs, Statisticians, Biologists, etc... are all careers (or degrees, in the case of an MPH) that can be involved in public health if that's your goal.

Some avenues to look into: have you given any thought to the commisioned corps/public health service (PHS), or public health authorities like the FDA? Both hire people with diverse backgrounds like those I listed above. Generally, I think it helps if you already have some health background already from your education, but that can be picked up with a second masters or even on the job.

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April 14, 2014 9:11 pm  

Hi K. Peterson -

I recently spoke with a recruiter from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who says they are actively hiring in the next few years. It is my understanding that they hire epidemiologists for a broad variety of positions, not just to stay in the hospital/lab. The CDC has several fellowship and internship programs to explore different opportunities. If you don't want to relocate to Atlanta, consider looking for similar Public Health Specialist positions at state and local health departments.

Other agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency may appeal to you. I have a friend who has a MA in Biology and works for the EPA on a water quality project - she does some field work, some statistics, and enjoys it immensely.

A third option - Have you considered policy? With policy you are definitely involved in public health and healthcare! A colleague of mine is completing his AAAS fellowship and is working on a project with the NSF - synthesizing information from executive agency reports to develop and implement an evaluation plan for a national education program. Specifically, he identifies knowledge gaps, performs portfolio analysis, conducts interviews, and organizes the data for presentations. Jobs in policy can be very diverse.

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April 15, 2014 8:48 am  

Other areas that focus on Public Health in include Professional Medical Societies and Patient Advocacy Groups. You can consider them both Policy influencing and Education driven groups. For example the American Heart Association is very influencial Medical Society in Cardiology, from setting Clinical Practice Guidelines to delivery of Medical Education, alot of roles to look at. Some have thier own Medical Journal (peer reviewed). They are also data driven, so there is opportunity to use some of your math skills depending on the role.

Patient advocacy groups such as the National Kidney Foundation, is another area to look at. The have both a Medical Society and Patient Arm, both very interested in Quality of Care (assessing via data), and public policy, alot of lobbying etc.

Good luck!