With a broad spectrum curriculum in biostatistics, epidemiology, public health policy, finance and budget and health informatics, a Master of Public Health from the University of Nevada at Reno provides you with the tools necessary to tackle the world’s biggest health problems. Whether you are intrigued by public health policy or want to address health issues facing your local community, there is a need for your expertise.
An integrative and multifaceted field, public health offers numerous career paths to consider. The depth and diversity of the profession, coupled with the opportunity to effect lasting change makes public health an exciting field. As you move forward with your graduate degree, here are four of the most interesting jobs to consider as an MPH graduate:
1. Infection Control Officer
If working in the field of disease prevention and control is of interest, the role of an infection control officer is one to consider. By law, all U.S. emergency response employers are required to have a designated infection control officer, known as a DICO, according to the National Association for Public Safety Infection Control Officers. The organization works with DICOS to ensure they have all of the necessary tools and resources to fulfill the role in their given organization.
Infection control officers ensure hospitals, healthcare organizations and emergency response professionals, such as firefighters and emergency medical technicians comply with all agency health regulations, from the local, state and federal level. Incorporating epidemiology with public health practice, these officers help to reduce the risk of disease and infection transmission by conducting risk assessments, analyzing health data and identifying trends that can allow them to better approach and improve existing protocols, according to Stanford Health Care. With patient safety as a fundamental concern, infection control officers collaborate with hospital and emergency response leaders to educate staff and ensure all policies and procedure are adhered to.
2. Emergency Management Specialist
Are you someone who does well under pressure, thriving best when urgent decisions need to be made? If so, a career in emergency management may be perfect for you. As an emergency management specialist, you will be responsible for all stages of emergency response, from preparing and planning for potential threats to responding to disasters after they strike. Working with local, state and federal government agencies as well as with the private sector, you will help to create and implement viable strategies for protecting local communities from the impact of national crises, according to USAJOBS of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA is responsible for managing the federal response and recovery after each and every domestic threat or actual disaster and, as of April 2014, had 14,844 employees dedicated to these efforts.
Though no one day is exactly like another in the field of emergency management, there are several core responsibilities you can expect. These include updating and maintaining policies and regulations, studying past emergency situations, improving protocol for recovery efforts and ensuring that the necessary resources are available as soon as a catastrophe hits. Maintaining and improving relationships with local organizers, agencies and first responders is also key for the success of emergency planning. According to FEMA, as an emergency management specialist you should be prepared for irregular hours and travel to disaster sites when necessary. Depending on the extent of an emergency situation and your specific role in the recovery efforts, deployment to these areas could last for several days or weeks. Though often challenging, a role in emergency management can have a hugely positive impact on the outcome of local communities following a disaster.
3. Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators
As an MPH graduate, you have the opportunity to explore careers in the field of environmental health where you can work with environmental agencies, health departments at the local or state level or for private organizations. If you are intrigued by the extensive process of obtaining water from natural resources such as lakes and rivers to then test, treat, purify and convert it to be circulated through the taps of the local community, a job as a water or wastewater treatment plant operator may be for you. Working in a water treatment plant, you would be responsible for controlling a network of machines that treat and transfer wastewater and water, according to Work for Water of the American Water Works Association.
Water plants are responsible for providing local and state businesses, institutions and homes with clean drinking water, while wastewater plants distribute clean water back to its original source. As such, operators ensure that water is not only safe for public consumption, but for animals and the environment as well by stripping the wastewater of chemicals and toxins. This is done through sampling and testing and adhering to the regulations established by the Office of Wastewater Management of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These include both the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Drinking Water Act, which help to protect and promote the health of the public by maintaining all processes follow proper protocol.
Similar to other careers in public health, treatment operators may be required to work during emergencies such as storms, chemical leaks or malfunctions within the plant, according to Work for Water.
4. Bioterrorism Researcher
At present, the U.S. government continues to face the threat of bioterrorism and the spread of infectious disease. The potential threat stresses the need to be prepared to respond to and counter these situations should they arise, according to the Public Health Emergency branch of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Government officials and public health agencies at both the state and local level must be equipped with the policies and resources to combat any attack or threat to national security. For those dedicated to tackling the issue of national security as it relates to bioterrorism, a job as a bioterrorism research presents a unique opportunity.
One of the main concerns within bioterrorism is that the agents used to intentionally spread disease are often manipulated to be immune to modern medicines, according to the Public Health Emergency division. With the goal of protecting the health of the public from these agents that can cause illness or even death, bioterrorism researchers typically conduct their work within a local or state public health laboratory. In addition to monitoring the threat of pandemics and bioterrorism attacks, bioterrorism researchers must also analyze what the agents behind chemical, biological or nuclear incidents are and whether the emergencies were accidental or not.
At the core of their work, bioterrorism researchers help to understand the chemical makeup of biological weapons of warfare such as, but not limited to, botulism, plague, anthrax and smallpox, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In this role, they help develop products used to treat infections or diseases that may result from these types of bioterrorism attacks. Moreover, this research-based information can help implement strategies for national security at the government level.