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Public health: what is it? How to work in the field

Public health: what is it? How to work in the field

Preserving community Public health is the main goal of public health. This is a multifaceted field that encompasses social work, epidemiology, environmental studies, and health education. Public health may be the ideal career choice for you if you desire to change the world and assist people in leading healthier lifestyles.

What is the definition of public health?

Public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities, and individuals,” according to CEA Winslow, a significant historical figure in the field.

Stated differently, maintaining people’s health and preventing disease are the main goals of public health. In order to develop ways to enhance communities’ general health, this profession takes a broad view of health and wellbeing.

public health

Over time, public health has undergone changes and evolution, but its fundamental objective has not changed: to safeguard and enhance the health of as many people as possible. The London School of Hygiene’s course, A History of Public Health in Post-War Britain, describes the evolution of public health since the 1950s.

Public health challenges

Working in the field of public health requires being up to date because there are always new obstacles to overcome. Below, we’ll discuss some of the major issues and concerns in public health.

These are but a few of the difficulties that public health officers deal with every day. Being aware of these problems and possessing the abilities to solve them is essential for employment in this field.

Enrolling in the University of Liverpool’s “Tackling Public Health Issues: Concepts and Evidence” course will provide you with a solid understanding of public health and enable you to confront obstacles in the field.

1. Globalisation and pandemics

Globalisation has a direct impact on public health, as diseases are spreading more quickly than ever before. With climate change making our world more hospitable to pests and viruses, we’re seeing an increase in pandemics and other global health threats.

Public health officials need to be prepared for these threats and have systems in place to respond quickly when a crisis occurs — such as the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

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2. Mental health

A vital component of general health and welfare, mental health is sometimes disregarded. Unfortunately, stigma surrounding mental illness persists, which can make it challenging for individuals to get the care they need.

Public health advocates strive to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide options to anyone in need of assistance.The Johns Hopkins University course Monday Campaigns: Lessons in Public Health Promotion provides an excellent overview of the finest methods and approaches for spreading health messages.

3. Drug and alcohol abuse

Substance misuse is a serious issue for public health that is only becoming worse. Addictions to drugs and alcohol can have a major negative impact on one’s health and frequently coexist with mental health disorders.

Drug and alcohol abuse

It is imperative for public health professionals to devise strategies to avert substance usage and furnish assistance to individuals in need. For further information on this problem and possible solutions, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and INPUD’s Drug Use and Harm Reduction course is an excellent resource.

What is global health?

The study of population health worldwide is known as global health. Experts from a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, public health, epidemiology, sociology, and economics, work in this interdisciplinary subject.

In order to enhance people’s health everywhere, global health officials work on a variety of projects, from creating novel illness treatments to distributing immunizations. To solve issues related to global health, it entails partnerships between governmental organizations, non-profits, and the commercial sector.

A fantastic introduction to the area of global health and how to form alliances to enhance health outcomes is provided by the Johns Hopkins University and STRIPE course, “Building Alliances in Global Health: From Global Institutions to Local Communities.”

What is the World Health Organisation?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the leading global health organisation. It works to promote health, prevent disease, and improve the lives of people around the world. The WHO has a wide range of programs and initiatives that focus on different aspects of global health, such as immunisation, disease prevention, and maternal and child health. The WHO also provides guidance to countries on how to improve their health systems and respond to public health emergencies.

Global health challenges

The field of global health is constantly evolving, and new challenges are always emerging. Some of the biggest challenges currently facing global health include:

  1. Non-communicable diseases:In many parts of the world, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) constitute a serious issue and the primary cause of death. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke are a few examples.
  2. Infectious diseases:We are all too aware of the terrible effects of infectious diseases spreading throughout the world’s population and getting out of control, from COVID-19 to HIV. Officials in charge of global health must be ready for these dangers and have procedures in place that allow them to act fast in an emergency. For more information on utilizing data to respond to infectious disease outbreaks, check out the Johns Hopkins University and STRIPE course, Collecting and utilizing Data for Disease Control and Global Health Decision-Making.
  3. Access to healthcare: Around the world, a large number of people lack access to high-quality healthcare. This presents a significant obstacle for global health professionals, as it may be caused by poverty or a lack of infrastructure. The difficulty lies in figuring out how to guarantee that everyone has access to reasonably priced healthcare while simultaneously providing it to those who require it.

You will get the abilities and information required to address some of these issues by taking the Johns Hopkins University and STRIPE course Planning and Managing Global Health Programs: Promoting Quality, Accountability, and Equity. This course will equip you to assume a leadership role in the field of global health and is intended for health professionals who wish to work in this area.

Skills needed to work in public health

Since working in public health involves a wide range of abilities, it could be worthwhile to determine if you’re a good fit for the position. Here are a few of the most significant ones.

  • Critical thinking: Public health professionals must possess the ability to critically analyze the issues they encounter. They have to find the source of an issue and come up with original fixes.
  • Communication: Effective communication with a range of audiences is a crucial ability. You’ll need to be able to convince others to act and translate difficult ideas into understandable language. The Open University’s Business Fundamentals: Effective Communication course can assist you in developing your communication abilities and teaching you how to modify your message for various audiences.
  • Organisational skills: Public health personnel must be well-organized and productive. They must have the capacity to organize tasks among several teams and handle massive volumes of data and information.
  • Interpersonal skills: The ability to build relationships with a variety of people is an important part of working in public health. They need to be able to work well with others and resolve conflict.
  • Technical skills: Strong technical abilities will enable global health officials to handle issues with data and analytics.You can hone these abilities by taking healthcare-related data analytics courses.

Why work in public health?

There are numerous motivations for someone to pursue a career in public health. Below, we’ll look at a few of the most well-known.

Improving health and wellbeing

The desire to positively impact other people’s lives is a major motivator for many who aspire to careers in public health. They are committed to enhancing the health and wellness of individuals, families, and communities because they recognize that the decisions we make regarding our health have a significant impact on our quality of life.

mproving health and wellbeing

Achieving equity in health

Achieving health fairness is a further motivator for people to pursue careers in public health. They contend that regardless of one’s upbringing or environment, everyone should have the same chance to lead a healthy life. In their eyes, public health is a means of creating equal opportunities for all people to lead healthy lives.

Support your community

A common motivation for those in the public health field is community support. They desire to use their knowledge and abilities to benefit others, and they see public health as a means of improving the quality of life in their community. They are dedicated to enhancing the health of people in their immediate vicinity because they recognize how important community health is to its overall success.

How to work in public health

The field of public health is dynamic, with new opportunities appearing on a regular basis. Continue reading to learn more about the various public health sectors and the many professions that are associated with them.

Working for the NHS

Joining the NHS is one of the most common methods to work in public health. There are many different professions available in the NHS, which is the UK’s largest employer of public health workers. There are various ways to become involved, ranging from working in GP practices and hospitals to community health centers and mental health programs.

Working for the NHS

Working in the public sector

Joining the public sector is another well-liked path to a career in public health. Numerous positions are available in:

  • Local government: Local council public health teams strive to enhance community health and wellness. They collaborate with partner organizations to ensure that everyone has access to the care and support they require as they create and implement programs and services that encourage healthy lives.
  • Civil service: The civil service offers a variety of public health positions, from policy work to delivery. In addition to working on a range of topics affecting people’s health and welfare, civil servants are crucial to the creation and execution of public policy.
  • Higher education: Professionals working in higher education as public or global health teachers conduct research and teach future generations of public health workers. Higher education is a great way to use your skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world, and it’s an excellent way to develop your career.
  • Charities: Certain charities concentrate on particular problems, like cancer or heart disease, while others have a broader focus.
  • Social enterprises: Social enterprises are businesses that have a social or environmental mission. Many social enterprises work in the public health sector and often use their profits to support a cause.

Types of jobs in public health

Public health is a broad field, meaning there are many different types of jobs available in several different settings. Here are a number of jobs you can consider to get involved in public health:

  • Nurses both treat patients and try to keep people healthy. There are numerous varieties of nurses, including certified nurse assistants and registered or licensed practical nurses. With Coventry University’s Public Health and Nursing ExpertTrack, you will gain the information and abilities necessary to pursue a career in nursing, from fostering a culture of health to healing the community.
  • Doctors identify and address medical conditions. Doctors come in a variety of forms, including general practitioners, specialists, and surgeons.
  • Healthcare managers plan, direct, and coordinate the delivery of healthcare services.
  • Pharmacists Both medicine dispense and usage guidance are given.
  • Paramedics  provide emergency medical care.
  • Educators instruct individuals on disease prevention and leading healthy lives. They might be employed at community centers, schools, or other places.
  • Researchers Investigate illnesses and create novel therapies. For instance, epidemiologists research the transmission and preventative mechanisms of illnesses.
  • Policymakers develop policies that promote healthy lifestyles and prevent disease. Take the Musculoskeletal Health: A Public Health Approach course by the UK Health Security Agency to learn more about how policy can be used to improve public health.
  • Environmental health officers safeguard the public against environmental risks such water contamination, noise pollution, and air pollution. You can learn more by taking the UK Health Security Agency’s Public Health Incidents Involving Lead course, which equips you with the abilities and information required to handle public health emergencies involving hazardous materials.

Final thoughts

There are many different ways to get involved in public health, so if you want to make a difference, there is sure to be a role that is perfect for you. Simply get started with the course of your choice and you’ll be prepared to start a career in public health in no time. If you still aren’t sure whether public health is for you, you can explore our best courses for careers in healthcare to explore different options.

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