Each person has a different idea of what their dream job is, but in many instances the same things will be present. Primarily, a career that offers great pay, excellent benefits, solid job security, and more. Personally, many find that the rewards that come with being able to help others are just as important as the financial benefits their job gives them. As such, entering the field of public health is a good option. And becoming a public health doctor could be the perfect career path for many.
The training needed to enter a positions as a public health doctor can be involved, and with that in mind it may not be for everyone. Learning more about the position, what it entails, and what you need to do to qualify for it will help you better understand whether or not it’s right for you. Keep reading to learn more about this career path.
What Is a Public Health Doctor?
A public health doctor is a medical professional who has specialized in improving and promoting good health and wellbeing in community populations. These professionals are physicians or doctors who are capable of providing medical care to patients, but who generally work to develop policies, provide education, and take other steps that help improve the overall health of a population.
Common job duties for a public health doctor vary greatly, but will likely include:
- Planning public health initiatives and carrying them out
- Performing studies on medical conditions or diseases to identify risk factors and problem areas
- Setting up and performing clinical trials
- Implementing programs and interventions to help improve the health of certain groups
- Developing educational programs that can boost understanding about different health issues
Unlike a regular physician or doctor, the public health doctor focuses more intently on preventing disease instead of on treating it. Additionally, they work on the health of entire communities or groups of people instead of one on one patient care. As such, they often have a much larger impact on the general health and wellbeing of their area.
Becoming a public health doctor involves a wide range of training and education, but it’s also important to have strengths in some basic personal areas. The following characteristics are needed to be able to truly thrive in this position.
- Strong Math Skills – Gathering data and then using the information to determine patterns and potential areas of risk is a major part of the job, and good math skills will help.
- Good Critical Thinking – Since a public health doctor uses raw data and research to make determinations about the overall effectiveness of different issues, strong critical thinking skills are important.
- Good Communication – These professionals also spend a good bit of time discussing their findings with others, and on educating the public about health related issues. They’ll need to be good communicators.
- Work Well Under Stress – At times, the job can be stressful. It is important for public health doctors to be able to work well during periods of stress.
Nature of the Work
The average day as a public health doctor is difficult to predict. A large portion of time will be devoted to analyzing data and then using the information to develop good educational programs and different health initiatives. As such, a good bit of each day will be spent doing office work and in meetings discussing the best path to take. Public health doctors may end up doing field work as well, and will often give presentations to colleagues, government representatives, and even to the public.
Education and Training
The educational requirements to become a public health doctor are very involved. These professionals must complete their undergraduate training and then complete medical school. This is followed by internships and residency programs required to become a doctor. Once that experience has been gained in the medical field, completion of a public health degree program will then be required in order to qualify for entry into the position.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics has no specific figure on salaries for a public health doctor, it does suggest that physicians earn roughly $187,000 per year on average. This figure may be higher or lower in the public health field depending on experience, employer, position, and much more.