Public Health is concerned with threats to health based on population health analysis. The population in question can be as small as a handful of people, or as large as all the inhabitants of several continents (for instance, in the case of a pandemic). The dimensions of health can encompass “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, as defined by the United Nations’ World Health Organization. Public health incorporates the interdisciplinary approaches of epidemiology, biostatistics and health services. Environmental health, community health, behavioral health, health economics, public policy, insurance medicine and occupational safety and health are other important subfields.
The focus of public health intervention is to improve health and quality of life through prevention and treatment of disease and other physical and mental health conditions. This is done through surveillance of cases and health indicators, and through promotion of healthy behaviors. Examples of common public health measures include promotion of hand washing, breastfeeding, delivery of vaccinations, and distribution of condoms to control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
You can earn over fifteen degrees from an accredited school of public health, including undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees. The most common are:
- Master of Public Health (MPH)
- Master of Health Administration (MHA)
- Master of Science (MS)
- Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
- Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
- Doctor of Science (ScD)
There are over 20 major fields of study. The five core disciplines are:
- Behavioral Science/Health Education
- Environmental Health
- Health Services Administration
You can search for programs in Public Health on the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS) website.