Public Health Fields and Specialties
Public Health Fields encompass the science and practice of preventing disease, extending life and promoting health. This field encompasses all areas of society – individuals, public/private organisations, communities and individuals alike – working in concert to improve people’s quality of life. Major specialties within this field include environmental health & community health; epidemiology / global/managerial health as well as health policy & management.
Environmental health is an area of public health that examines both natural and man-made environmental elements that can impact human health. This encompasses not only the physical environment (soil, air, water), but also social, biological, and chemical components.
Environmental health specialists research, study and analyze how environmental quality affects human health. They create, promote and enforce environmentally-related guidelines, policies, laws and regulations with the purpose of creating healthy living environments for people. Environmental health specialists typically focus on one aspect such as air pollution control, sustainable growth strategies, chemical safety concerns, climate change impacts or social determinants.
Community health workers provide educational and facilitation services to enhance quality of life and health in their communities. They organize outreach programs that engage members of the public in regards to educational opportunities and health access. From a public health standpoint, these workers collect data in order to advocate for local needs.
Public health workers may work for nonprofits, public healthcare departments, schools or other private organizations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBS), community health worker jobs will expand by 17% between 2020-2030 – faster than average growth across all occupations combined.
Epidemiologists study the causes and patterns behind diseases and injuries within a community or population. Their aim is to minimize negative outcomes while improving health through community education, research, and advocacy on health policy issues.
Epidemiologists collect and analyze data through interviews, surveys, and observations. In order to pinpoint the underlying causes of health issues they may draw blood or take fluid samples. Just like their counterparts in other public-health institutions and systems, epidemiologists report their findings and recommendations back to policymakers, healthcare practitioners, and the public in order to effectively manage public healthcare initiatives.
According to the National Institutes of Health, global health refers to research, study and practice that takes a global view in public health matters. Organizations such as the World Health Organization, World Food Programme and UNICEF carry out this work; most global health workers work for non-profits or government organizations.
Health policy is an integral area of public health. This field includes roles such as healthcare policy analyst, researcher and manager of healthcare services. Health policy professionals serve as advocates and researchers in this area by serving as liaisons between professionals in public health, organizations and government agencies.
Rivier University offers B.S. and Master of Public health degrees that can be earned online, making it convenient for students to balance work and personal commitments. These degree programs take approximately one year to complete, making it a flexible option that fits into many students’ schedules.