Guest Author - Jamie Robertson
There are numerous professions and fields that contribute to public health, but there are a few academic fields that are always part of professional public health training. To qualify to receive a Master's of Public Health, an individual must prove competency in all of these fields. Below is a summary of some of these fields.
Behavioral science plays a critical role in public health. Behavioral scientists look at behavioral factors that can harm a personís health and find ways to help them change these factors. This field uses models of behavior change to explain why some people are better able to change than others.
Epidemiology is considered the basic science of public health. Epidemiologist conduct studies to determine risk factors for disease. They also track outbreaks and conduct outbreak investigations. These studies help physicians to determine which patients are at an increased risk of developing a certain condition.
Individuals who specialize in environmental health look at the environmental factors that affect disease. This includes studying air and water quality, determining what chemicals are toxic, and finding out what other environmental factors affect the populationís health.
Biostatistics is considered the language of public health. Biostatisticians determine whether there is truly a difference in the number of individuals who get a disease among those who are exposed to something and those who are not exposed. Their calculations also help to determine the average length of time a person with a certain disease will survive and whether a certain treatment has better outcomes than others.
Professionals who specialize in health policy help to determine what the effect of a certain policy will be. They look mostly at policy surrounding health issues, such as policies behind Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. They also make recommendations based on research and analysis to local, state, and national policy makers.