A career that helps improve public health

A career that helps improve public health

Focus shifting from individual specific to public health

Larger domain Master of Public Health programme changes the focus from individual specific issues to population-based problems.

Remember the simpler days when our dreams were restricted to becoming a doctor or an engineer? When one’s medical journey led to either being a doctor or a medical practitioner. When opportunities post MBBS remained in restrictive categories? Apparently, education has evolved to such an extent that life after MBBS is enriching, as various verticals of health and welfare sector expand to create newer positions and avenues to contribute towards the benefit of a robust future. This is a world based on demands and hence, the educational world is evolving to meet the newer demands.

Amongst the most plum of health-related avenues is that of Public Health, which entails all aspects of promoting and maintaining the standards of people’s health. There are specialised courses that empower and guide students for this role, the most important being Master of Public Health (MPH).

The Master of Public Health degree includes nuances of public health practices, at both grass root and government levels. Here, students are encouraged to develop strong competencies over a set of integrated interdisciplinary domains such as Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Health Policy and Systems, Public Health Leadership and Management, Evidence Based Policy and Healthcare, Health Communication, Diversity and Culture, Programme Management and Planning, Public Health Biology, Systems Thinking and Environmental Health Sciences. This degree often supplements the skill sets achieved by an MBBS course.

While the status of public health has improved to a great extent globally in this century, a lot more needs to be done. With the evolution of the public health comes the enormity of diseases that withstand the test of advancement. The public health initiatives taken by public health officers affect humankind on a global scale. Public health professionals address broad issues that can affect the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities, societies, and countries — taking proactive measures to proceed towards a better future. Here are a few achievements that public health officers have made a reality:

  • Increase in life expectancies.
  • Reduction in infant and child mortality, at a global scale.
  • Eradication or reduction of deadly communicable diseases.

Career options

Physicians-MPH: This covers preventive care and patient education — two of the most crucial aspects that every physician needs to master over. This degree provides its bearers with expertise to conduct awareness programmes among their patients, lowering the risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases.

Nurses-MPH programme: This has newly inculcated the branch of Occupational Health Nursing, catering to this segment. Now, degree holders can oversee various community outreach programmes, while gaining a chance to work with educational institutions and nonprofit organisations in the field of public health.

Occupational and Environmental Health Specialists: This programme changes the focus from individual specific issues to population-based problems. This makes it easier for individuals to understand the impact of the environment on the health of the community.

Epidemiologists and Biostatisticians: They gain great knowledge from undertaking an MPH course. It helps them harness an understanding of diverse social, economic, cultural and religious factors that impact community health, bringing in a broader perspective into the table.

Policy analysts: Public health forms an integral aspect of public policy and programmes, based on which the betterment of the world is considered. Analysts with a Masters in Public Health tend to have an in-depth understanding of health issues affecting the community, noting their impact on the political mark up.

The demand of individuals holding this degree has risen, owing to the upward state of health and sanitation that contributes greatly to the well-being of the nation. To supplement this demand, institutions are uplifting the educational framework of the health domain, by offering Master of Public Health degree. This would, in turn, provide the nation with a well-versed force of health officials who would give their best to uplift the status of health in the country.

(The writer is President, IIHMR University, Jaipur) 

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