Where we live impacts our communities’ health. And we can make our communities healthier, stronger and safer! We’re excited to announce our 2022 NPHW theme is “Public Health is Where You Are.”
What is public health and why is it so important? This week is National Public Health Week, so let's take a deeper look.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines public health as “the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities.”
This essential work is achieved by professionals who research disease prevention and monitor health conditions worldwide. They develop and implement policies and other initiatives that have far-reaching impact on community health.
In essence, they are the reason we can enjoy good health every day. Let's cover the essentials of what public health is and why it is important. We’ll also show you how you can get started on your education to a career in public health.
Public Health is Where You Are
Where we live impacts our communities’ health. And we can make our communities healthier, stronger and safer! The 2022 NPHW theme is “Public Health is Where You Are.”
Why is Public Health Important?
Communities across the globe have public health professionals to thank for their health and safety.
Public health professionals are the reason we have successful vaccines. These professionals also create policies that promote smoke-free indoor air and seatbelts, and develop safety standards for workers across industries. They ensure communities have access to clean water and that families can obtain mental health services.
These professionals’ gallant efforts have led to impactful progress in quality of life, too.
Life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900 to now average 70 years of age, thanks to public health initiatives.
Similarly, the global under-five mortality rate has dropped by 59% since 1990, according to the World Health Organization.
Many doctors and other health professionals are often responsible for treating existing illnesses. Public health professionals - on the other hand - focus on preventing them from happening.
In essence, public health creates long-lasting impact for people around the world.
What are this year's NPHW daily themes?
Racism: A Public Health Crisis (Monday)
Public Health Workforce: Essential to our Future (Tuesday)
Community: Collaboration and Resilience (Wednesday)
World Health Day: Health is a Human Right (Thursday)
Accessibility: Closing the Health Equity Gap (Friday)
Climate Change: Taking Action for Equity (Saturday)
Mental Wellness: Redefining the Meaning of Health (Sunday)
What Can You Do with a Public Health Degree?
Graduates with a degree in public health can enter careers in health-related agencies, medical centers, and long-term care and assisted living facilities. Other options include schools, private and public health organizations or local, state and federal health departments.
Public health is a broad field that encompasses many different job functions.
The Public Health Association lists some common public health jobs that include:
- State and commonwealth government
- Schools and universities
- Hospitals and medical centers
- Community centers
- Nonprofit and international organizations
- Community health worker
- Disease and infection investigator
- Environmental health specialist
- Global health professionals
- Occupational health and safety specialist
- Food inspector
- Urban planner
- Health educator
- Emergency preparedness and response coordinator
- Public health policy coordinator
- Research analyst
- Public health physician
- Public health nurse
Public health care workers can earn the highest paid annual wage of $88,580 to $93,910.
Salary expectations can vary depending on the field. For example, the median annual wage for epidemiologists is $74,560. The median annual wage of health education specialists is $56,500.
- Lauren Carson ’18, ’20MHA earned her public health degree with a concentration in health care with management. Now, she is an epidemiological investigator at the Erie County Department of Health. Carson began this work just days before the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality for the United States in March 2020. Immediately, Carson was thrust into a role of designing a system for tracking and contact tracing COVID-19 cases countywide.
- Emma Oas ’21 took a different pathway to her public health career. Oas designed an innovative program to assess and respond to the social isolation of residents in two Beacon Communities properties. The program paired senior residents with Gannon students who planned to travel abroad. Oas modeled the program on Gannon’s Alternative Break Service Trips and Transforming Residents Abroad Via Engaged Learning programs. Oas now serves as a member of the AmeriCorp.
How Can You Earn a Degree in Public Health?
Gannon University offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Health that can get you started on your meaningful career track.
This degree is designed for students who are seeking a broadly based health-related major.
The major combines a foundation in health-related courses, sciences, humanities and social sciences with courses in one or more university departments.
The versatility of this program helps students meet the pre-requisites needed for business, science and allied health graduate school programs.
Students will choose a concentration track that will build on their personal and career goals and interests.
These concentration tracks include:
- Science: This concentration is for students who want a broad foundation in the core sciences while also incorporating health-related courses. Students take courses that prepare them for pre-health professional programs. They can also enter graduate programs in health sciences, environmental science and public health that require a strong science focus.
- Health care with management: This concentration is for students who want to focus their efforts on the business/management side of health care. This concentration is for students who want to move into staff and administrative position within the health care industry. They can also opt to continue with graduate education within business or management.
- Health education/communication: This concentration prepares students for careers as health educators to design, conduct and evaluate activities that improve people's health. These activities can take place in schools, communities, health care facilities, businesses and colleges.
This major is ideal for students who may envision working in a variety of settings within the health services arena.
- Health-related agencies
- Medical centers
- Long-term care facilities
- Assisted living facilities
- Private and public health organizations
- Local, state and federal health departments
In addition, the program is appropriate for students interested in graduate study in a variety of health-related fields. These can include graduate programs in the fields of medicine, health sciences and public health.
Why Study Public Health?
The public health field is expected to see a considerable amount of growth over the next decade. This means you will have ample opportunity to meet a demand for essential careers.
For example, the field for health educators and community health workers is expected to grow 16% by 2026.
Another popular branch of public health - epidemiology and biostatistics -is expected to grow by 9% by 2026.
Many public health professionals enter the career field out of desire to promote and protect the health of communities worldwide.
By becoming a public health professional, you can engage in the meaningful work of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through planned and organized efforts.
Learn more about a degree in public health from Gannon University.