The aging population, obesity and opioid epidemic are just a few factors that impact public health care, which makes choosing an online Master’s in Public Health program that aligns coursework with real-world issues an imperative.
What does a Master of Public Health offer students? You’ll be exposed to a broad base of knowledge and skills in core areas of public health. This education helps you gain the knowledge necessary to teach public health topics, develop policies that address public health issues and social equity, research and work in clinical settings, or administer services on a local, national or global level.
This broad range of disciplines opens many opportunities to work in public health or another healthcare discipline that values interdisciplinary skills, independent thinking, and leadership abilities.
The graduate program you choose may require an internship or field experience, allowing you to work directly with the individuals, communities and organizations that drive policy or benefit from them. Hands-on learning, like internships or immersion opportunities, provide you the opportunity to test out the skills learned in real situations, giving you a distinct advantage when you graduate from an online MPH program.
There are many aspects to public health work. Your responsibilities could be to educate or to lead – and all tasks in between. The areas of public health could involve environmental health, health communication, program planning and more. What follows are a few of the specialties that are available to you as a Master of Public Health student.
The purpose of the environmental health focus is to provide scientific data on the origins of human health conditions that are caused by the environment. The program explores how exposure to environmental hazards can contribute to illness, chronic conditions or death and how students can employ knowledge and skills to solve these issues.
Programs that focus on global environmental health may expose students to the unique challenges of poorer countries that have fewer resources to protect citizens. You’ll learn how inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene, lack of clean water, and vector-borne diseases, like malaria, impact a region and how to develop solutions that help mitigate the challenges created by poverty and advance social equity.
In addition to environmental causes of human health risks, your program allows you to practice:
- Critical thinking: analyzing issues and forming strategies to address them
- Analytical thinking: collecting and reviewing data and recognizing patterns, which can be used to inform decision making
- Risk assessment: using historical records to predict likelihood of hazards or anything that could negatively impact an organization
- Collaborative skills: organizing and motivating a team of people to work together toward a common goal
- Team building: team building is the end result of collaboration
- Creative thinking: looking at solutions using fresh perspectives or “outside the box”
Occupational health focuses on indoor environments, particularly in workplaces, exploring the underlying science and policy for issues that include workplace safety, risk management and corrective action to toxicant exposure. Students learn about developing science-based workplace policies and procedures that help maintain safe workplaces.
Graduates will learn to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of occupational disease hazards
- Control workplace risk factors for a number of health conditions
- Apply the concepts of occupational safety
- Implement and measure the effectiveness of risk assessment approaches
- Communicate occupational health theory to internal and external stakeholder
- Explain how workplace factors can impact employee health
This discipline of public health employs communication strategies to advance public health initiatives on an individual or community level. As a public health professional, you’ll use communication to influence and guide the public to adopt a safer lifestyle or avoid habits that could damage health, through health campaigns and public education forums.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that health communication is effective in:
- Maintaining relationships between patients and health professionals
- Influencing the public’s adherence to clinical recommendations
- Ensuring individuals are exposed to proper scientific health information
- Raising public awareness of health risks
- Developing a public health message and campaign
- Educating consumers on gaining access to health care systems and public health information
- Sharing images of health to community
- Developing telehealth applications
You’ll learn to use communication and marketing to influence the public and those who execute public policy to advance public health initiatives. In addition, you may have the opportunity to practice working with other public health students and work on public health campaigns as a team. In addition to scientifically based communication, you may learn how to executive awareness campaigns through social media and the internet.
Public Health Policy and Management
Students who focus on health policy in their online Master’s in Public Health program typically how to translate evidence from studies, surveys and political intent into effective public health policy. Depending on whether you are studying global, national or local reach, you might also learn to apply available resources to your targeted demographic to achieve public health goals.
Additionally, this focus area is concerned with the relationships between institutions, and how they work together to develop, apply and maintain programs for the betterment of public health.
Typical MPH programs cover things like:
- Applying economic, epidemiological and comparative policy analysis techniques to assess how diseases impact a community
- Using scientific and public information to drive effective policy development
- Working with other health and public disciplines to determine innovative policy options
- Developing cultural empathy and sensitivity within diverse health system
- Stepping into leadership roles in the policy development process
- Effectively communicating the results of research to a broad range of internal and external stakeholders
Public Health Program Planning and Evaluation
During the course of the Master in Public Health degree with a program planning and evaluation focus, you will discover analytical processes, observant data, scientific evidence and effective communication. At the successful conclusion of this program, graduates can review, assess, document, manage, and evaluate health and campaign programs.
During the degree’s trajectory, you will be prepared to evaluate health actions to help stop stop the spread of infectious disease and the threats of bioterrorism. The solutions to public health threats that you learn will be based on scientific approaches to eliminate personal and emotional bias.
Global Public Health
What is Master of Public Health with a global health concentration about? This focus area is concerned with improving the health of people globally. The skills you learn include effective collaboration, because these health specialists cross national borders to establish policies and programs that respond to global public health and disease challenges. If you choose to study this discipline in your online MPH program, you’ll be focused on social justice and skills, such as:
- Scientific research methods
- Analytical skills
- Health metrics and evaluation
- Political influences on health
- Global responses to health care crises
- Developing and managing global programs
- Collaborating with multiple cultures
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