According to the American Public Health Association, public health care professionals work to analyze the effects of genetics, personal choice and the environment on the overall health of individuals and communities. Healthcare professionals in public health can take many roles, depending upon if they are a doctor, a nurse or other type of health care professional. Generally speaking, health care professionals in public health provide and coordinate patient care in a public health setting. The purpose of this work is a bit different than a typical role of a doctor or a nurse. In public health the health care professionals is focused on the overall health of the community rather just on one patient. Also, the public health professional is trying to prevent illnesses and diseases from spreading in the first place, rather than take care of patients after they are sick.
Healthcare professionals in public health may work in many settings and specialties. For example, a doctor or nurse in public health may work in the community a great deal to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Where They Work
Health care professionals working in public health can work in many types of public or private institutions. A public health nurse or doctor may work in a public health department at the local or state level. Or, he or she could work in these types of facilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Hospitals – 61%
Nursing facilities – 7%
Doctors’ offices – 7%
Government – 6%
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that public health professionals are experiencing a high degree of demand for their services. Nurses will see a 19% increase in demand in jobs by 2022, which is faster than average.
For doctors, job demand overall will increase by 18% by 2022, which also is faster than average. Both fields will see much higher demand for preventative services, as this helps to cut health care costs for an aging population.
John Donovan is an MPH candidate in environmental and occupational health. He is very passionate about politics, helping the environment and serving the health of the broader community. He wants to become a public health care professional and help people who are less fortunate. He believes that good health is a human right, and is something that should not be used for profit. Donovan also thinks that public health care professionals have the loudest voice on critical public health issues, and he intends to use his voice to make a big difference in the world.
BLS reports that nurses earn a median salary of $65,400 per year. It should be noted that government agencies usually pay the highest, with a median salary of $68,500 for nurses.
Primary care doctors earn $220,000 per year, although if they work for a public health department, this could be lower.
Is a Career in Public Health Right for Me?