Jobs in community medicine

CAREER WATCH 

Jobs in community medicine

Community Medicine is the study of health and disease in the population of defined communities or groups. Dr Shashikala Manjunatha provides details

Public health/ community medicine is a growing field with a number of job opportunities in various areas, like health services (hospitals), health education/behavioural science, environmental health, nutrition, public health practice, NGOs and so on.

Community medicine specialists include medical doctors who have done their MBBS and a three year Doctor of Medicine (MD) course in Community Medicine during which they are trained in Epidemiology and Bio-statistics, Health Planning and Health Management, Health Education and Health Promotion, Primary Medical Care etc. Other specialists also include personnel who have mastered a course in Public Health Medicine or Public Health.
The responsibilities of a Community Medicine specialist include:

- In-depth understanding of the determinants of health and diseases

- Diagnose and manage common illnesses and emergencies encountered in the community.   

- Adopt an integrated approach to develop policies to meet the health needs of the individual, family and the community.

- Conduct epidemiological investigations of communicable and non¬-communicable diseases and suggest appropriate solutions to public health problems.

- Conduct investigations into the problems of health services of the community.

- Plan, organise, implement and evaluate health services and health programmes.

- Interpret records and reports of health services at various levels of health care delivery system.

- Perform research and apply research findings to improve the health services of the community.

- Undertake teaching and training assignments in the field of community medicine for various categories of medical and paramedical personnel.

- Function as an effective member as well as a leader of the health team.

- Strengthen public-private partnership schemes as managers and team leaders.

- Initiate epidemiological units at hospitals.

- Initiate clinics – social units at schools and colleges.

Career options for Community Medicine specialists

- Epidemiologist in health services or in research organisations

- Public health officer in State or Central health services

- Public health project manager in UN and other NGOs

- Research officer in medical research organisations and pharmaceutical industries

- Family physician in health care or health maintenance organisations

- Teacher in medical colleges and public health schools

In spite of the impressive advances made in the field of Community Medicine in India, there is considerable confusion over its role in the future. The basic shortcoming of public health in India is that those with training in public health are not in a position to make decisions. Conventionally, these crucial positions are handled by bureaucrats and ministers who do not have the training or experience in public health. The current postgraduates in community medicine are at a loss to understand their role in mitigating the health situation in the country. The future to them appears to be only in academics, as responsible public health positions in international organisations are open to everyone and not just doctors of Community Medicine.

Community Medicine needs to be integrated into public health and include the elements of statistics, economics, demography, informatics, epidemiology and disease prevention, gender, occupational and environmental health, research methods (primary and secondary including systematic reviews), and management, as further specialisations.
This needs to be open to both medical and nonmedical graduates.


(The writer is MD, Professor and HoD of Community Medicine, Rajarajeswari Medical College and Hospital.)

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