Public Health Physician

Entering the medical field is a career choice that makes a tremendous amount of sense for those interested in helping others while earning a great salary. There are plenty of roles within the medical community that offer diversity and numerous benefits, and one of them is that of a public health physician. If you’re serious about helping others while earning good pay, becoming a public health physician is a good call.

It’s a job that isn’t right for everyone, of course. It takes time and effort to follow this career path, so taking a minute to find out more about it before you start the work required is important. Keep reading to learn more about the job.

What Is a Public Health Physician?

A public health physician is a highly trained physician who focuses their efforts on improving the health of an entire population instead of solely on one-on-one patient treatment. The primary focus is on the prevention of disease within a community, and there are numerous responsibilities that you may have within the position.

Common job duties include:

  •                    Gather data to analyze and assess public health problems
  •                    Conduct research related to those problems including their possible causes and links to other issues in the community
  •                    Develop strategies that can help lead to the implementation of programs that will prevent disease or promote good overall health in the community
  •                    Consult with public health officials to develop legislation that focus on improving the health and wellbeing of entire communities
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As with any job, the training and education only helps with so much. You’ll also want to have some good personal skills that help enhance your ability to do the job well. The following areas will help you thrive in the position.

  •                    Good Communication – Listening as well as talking are two major components of the job, so it’s important that you are able to adequately listen to others and that you can discuss issues and solutions with them.
  •                    Good Critical Thinking – You’ll need to rely on your ability to use information given to you to come to a conclusion about what issues exist and need to be dealt with. As such, strong critical thinking skills are important.
  •                    Confidence – The decisions you make will have long lasting effects on public health, so it’s important that you have the right level of confidence for the job.
  •                    Attention For Detail – Being able to spot small details will help you make a major impact on the future of public health.
  •                    Good Self Control – You’ll also need to have patience and be able to control your emotions if you want to thrive in this career field.

Nature of the Work

The job will involve a lot more office based work than other physician positions. While you’ll spend time working with individual patients, the nature of the work is more focused on research, analyzing data, and developing strategies that will help the public health in general. As such, expect to spend most of your time in the office. Meetings with others in the field and with local policy makers will be common as well.

These professionals work in the public sector, usually for government branches. However, it’s not uncommon to work for universities, hospitals, and other private entities as well.

Education and Training

You’ll need a solid medical degree in order to enter this field. Usually, physicians working in the public health field start by providing primary care and gradually move into the field by earning a Master of Public Health degree. Others begin their training early with the specific goal of becoming a public health physician. In either case, a Master of Public Health will be needed, along with the training needed to become an MD or other similar physician’s training. It can take several years to complete the training, but for many the rewards are well worth it.

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Public health physicians earn a very decent salary, though the specific salary range is tricky to pin down because it depends upon the specific area you’re employed in, any specializations you may hold, and your employer. Generally, they will earn a salary similar to general practitioners and family physicians, with an average income of about $173,000 annually in most cases. 

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