Monday, March 14, 2011

Career prospects: Public Health

Right now, what do I know about public health and what do I want to know?

I think that Public Health involves perhaps working especially for government to organise and manage health services.  Actually I don't know much about it.  Time to find out.

The post-grad dip in public health offered through Curtin Uni requires a specialisation in either epidemiology and biostatistics or in public health.  The epidemiology and biostatistics major involves learning about epidemiological methods and how to use them appropriately, learning how to apply them in investigating the determinants of health and ill-health, evaluating health care programs to see if they are worth running and how effective they are (probably with a view to financing them), making sure that I can manage all stages of a research investigation.  The core units are about infectious diseases and the epidemiology of these (so the study of infectious disease, causes and vectors and interaction with public health policy, cultural practices, behavioural change, etc.), health research methods (ways in which we can study health), foundations of public health (how did the field start and how has it evolved, what is it now), biostatistics (mathematical tools for determining effects and patterns of variables interacting and for describing variables related to health), research methodology and more stats, and so on.  The optional units sound pretty interesting but I don't know how they fit into the course because the core units already provide nearly 200 points which is what is required to graduate.  I think there is room for one optional unit in the 200 points, or you could do some extra work I suppose.

The other stream of study, the public health major, ...

Where does this course get me?  I read the short precis for environmental health and that sounded very interesting.  That was about the interaction between people's health and environmental factors, biological stressors, pollutants, air pollution, water and waste management, noise, built environments, and global climate issues.

One of the problems with this course is that it seems to be designed for people already working in a health-related area who want to upgrade their skills and knowledge to a new level whereas I don't work in a health-related area and don't already have a relevant background from which I am branching out.

The best option that I can see right now for capitalising on acquiring a qualification in this area is to apply for the Department of Health's graduate recruitment program.  However, this would be very competitive and I'm afraid of being stumped if I failed to gain a place.

I have started thinking that environmental health would be an awesome field in which to operate and it is closely related to both occupational health and safety and to public health.  The problem is that is is much more applied science based and courses seem to require previous background in science subjects.  If I could not get into this course directly maybe I could do bridging courses or enter one of the other two fields with a view to moving sideways in the future (if I still want to do that then).

That's enough for now.  Something else has come up, namely a course of study that would get me into Environmental Health and Safety in 18 months (including some bridging units).  Cool.

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