Public Health is the science of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention. Public health professionals analyze the effect on health of genetics, personal choice and the environment in order to develop programs that protect the health of your family and community. Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country.
Public health professionals try to prevent problems from happening or re-occurring through implementing educational programs, developing policies, administering services, regulating health systems and some health professions, and conducting research, in contrast to clinical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, who focus primarily on treating individuals after they become sick or injured. It is also a field that is concerned with limiting health disparities, and a large part of public health is the fight for health care equity, quality, and accessibility. (American Schools & Programs of Public Health)
Core areas of Public Health:
- Behavioral Science/Health Education
- Emergency Medical Services
- Environmental Health
- Health Services Administration/Management
- International/Global Health
- Maternal and Child Health
- Public Health Laboratory Practice
- Public Health Policy
- Public Health Practice
Unlike other health professions, most Schools of Public Health do not have specific pre-requisites required for admission. However, this advice from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health may be helpful for students considering which concentration they wish to pursue in Public Health:
While there are generally no prerequisites, applicants should keep in mind that the core curriculum for all CEPH-accredited schools and programs is strongly quantitative based. Upon matriculation students will take core courses such as Biostatistics and Epidemiology. Students will want to be as prepared as possible for the challenging curriculum.
In addition, some prerequisites may make you a stronger candidate for specific programs. For example, applicants interested in Environmental Health may fare better with several lab based science classes or work experience in the sciences. Similarly, applicants for biostatistics may fare better with several advanced math courses.