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A nurse working at a drive-in COVID-19 testing site.COVID-19 Drive-though testing, April 2020.Career options for students trained in public health are exceptionally strong and will continue to grow in the future. More than 10 years ago, the Association of Schools of Public Health noted that “the worsening [public health] worker shortages will reach crisis proportions in the coming years” [read the ASPH Policy Brief pdfConfronting the Public Health Workforce Crisis]. Based on an analysis of the number of trained public health workers relative to the growth of the U.S. population, the report estimates that the U.S. would be short 250,000 public health workers by the year 2020.

But it’s not just that public health positions are going unfilled as workers retire — the field of public health itself is rapidly changing and expanding, leading to new opportunities for students trained at accredited schools of public health like ours. Consider the following:

  • Public health and the health care system are increasingly working toward the same goals. It’s clear that prevention at the population level is critical for continued improvements in the public’s health. At the same time, there is growing emphasis on controlling health care costs and improving health care quality. Public health is uniquely situated to provide workers trained in health education, behavioral interventions, health economics, health policy — perspectives that are critical for improving both health and health care.
  • Opportunities are broadening as more sectors recognize the critical role of communities and the environment in health. As the idea of “Health in All Policies” [see the pdfASTHO report on the subject] continues to gain prominence, leaders in diverse fields (housing, transportation, agriculture, business, law, etc.) are particularly seeking workers who can bring public health knowledge on the critical role of the environment in health.
  • The skills learned and the perspectives gained though training in public health can be applied in any career. As an evidence-based, interdisciplinary field, public health prepares students in systems thinking and the ability to critically assess information from a variety of sources. Public health students are equipped to conduct scientific analyses, but also to think analytically in any situation. Most importantly, training in public health prepares individuals to work and communicate effectively in teams, which is essential in the 21st century workforce.

Take a look at these resources for job searches in public health. You’ll see that careers vary widely — whether you appreciate the stability of the office or the adventure of working in the field, whether you love interacting with data or with people, whether you dream of giving back in a rural county in the Southern U.S. or a low/middle income country in the Southern hemisphere, there’s a public health career that’s right for you!

American Public Health Association

Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health

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