Public health is a broad field that is focused on directing community efforts towards the prevention of diseases and the promotion of healthy living of a population. It involves research aimed at identifying diseases, providing medical care and creating policies to help prevent epidemics and improve the general health of a community.
Being a broad field, this industry covers several careers across different disciplines.
Here are 5 core disciplines of public health:
1. Social and behavioural health: This field studies the social factors affecting a population’s health. It places more emphasis on understanding individual thought processes, reasons for human behaviour and how human behaviour can affect people’s health. Careers in this field include Psychology, Social work, Psychiatry and Counselling.
2. Biostatistics: Professionals in this industry specializing in biostatistics, develop and apply statistical models to identify trends in the health of a population. These professionals are typically involved in clinical trials and projects to study the trends of a population.
3. Epidemiology: This field involves the study and analysis of the distribution, pattern and causes of health conditions in a community. Professionals in this field need to be skilled in statistics to properly interpret data and locate the causes of these diseases.
4. Environmental health: Environmental health covers external factors like water quality, climate change and pollution that can affect a population’s health. Careers in this field are focused on research and prevention measures to minimize the impact of these environmental risks on community health.
5. Health Services Administration: This discipline is responsible for planning, directing and coordinating medical and health services. Professionals in this field come from a variety of non-health-related backgrounds and are responsible for creating policies that provide access to medical care across various communities. Careers in this role would require knowledge of economics, politics, finance and management to develop practical and cost-effective policies towards improving the health of a population.
Why is public health needed in the society?
Public health creates a system that implements policies and strategies to protect the health of communities, particularly the vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Careers in this field are essential in societies for the following reasons:
• Its practices promote research and educates people on health issues to improve the quality of life in a community.
• It involves developing policies and enlightening the community to reduce infant mortality and extend life expectancy.
• Public health professionals ensure communities have access to needed health care and other basic environmental needs to prevent the spread of diseases.
• Prevention and control of the spread of infection through immunization coverage and disease outbreak control.
• The industry creates a system that allows health challenges to be detected early enough and possible remedies discovered.
Skills needed to practice in the industry
Professionals in the public health field help improve the lives of communities by making strategic decisions that promote healthy living.
To successfully build a career in public health, you need to have the following skills:
• Empathy: Graduates who intend to build a career in public health need to be able to show empathy for the patients they may come in contact with and relate with them in a warm and friendly manner to ease their anxiety and worries.
• Strong Ethical Values: Professionals in public health are expected to comply with the set standards of their practice at all times to deliver effective healthcare services to the patients and ensure sensitive information of patients are protected in the process.
• Strong communication skills: Regardless of their speciality, public health professionals need to have effective communication skills to help communicate effectively with a community, accurately report findings and create public service campaigns if needed.
• Research: Research is an essential skill in almost every public health career. Professionals in public health are generally skilled in gathering and interpreting data to allow them to make informed decisions.
• Project Management: For graduates of public health to build a successful career in the industry, they are expected to have impressive project organization and management skills. The ability to identify the needs of a community and organize projects to encourage participation from a community is a skill that is much needed in the public health industry.
Top Universities to Study Public Health in Australia
Popular as a top study abroad destination, Australia’s focus on the healthcare and medical industry makes it a great option to study and practice public health. Its colleges and universities offering degrees in public health are globally recognized by independent ranking bodies for their research and teaching quality.
Here are top 4 universities to consider for a master’s degree in public health in Australia:
1. Australian National University (ANU)
Known as one of Australia’s best research institutions, the Australian National University offers a Masters degree in Public Health that runs for two years full time. This program will cover the basic knowledge and practical techniques needed to tackle global health problems.
2. University of Melbourne
The University of Melbourne is one of Australia’s oldest universities and is ranked 16th in the world for public health. The Master of Public Health program in the university runs for two years (full time), exposing students to the core foundations of public health practice and offers them the opportunity to specialize in one or more key disciplines of public health.
3. University of Sydney
The University of Sydney offers a Mater of Public Health that runs for 18 months full time and can be offered online and on campus. This program provides basic health knowledge and skills in Epidemiology, Public Health, Biostatistics, Qualitative Health Research, Health Promotion and Public Health Ethics.
4. Deakin University
With a significant number of courses online, Deakin has a reputation as Australia’s fastest-growing research university. Deakin University Master of Public Health program runs for one to two years, depending on your previous qualifications and experience.
The Master of Public Health prepares students to solve global health issues and learn the practical skills needed. This program is ideal for graduates from other fields interested in protecting and improving the health of communities.
If you need further guidance on degree options and career paths in Public Health or counselling regarding schools to apply to for your degree in Australia, please click here to chat with our counsellors.
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