My name is Yetunde and I am currently studying for a Public Health Masters. Having a background in veterinary medicine has helped me understand the role veterinary doctors play in preventing and controlling zoonotic diseases.
However, I wanted to get a more global perspective and decided to advance my career by enrolling in the Public Health programme. I wanted to understand the core principles behind the discipline, develop new skills, gain in-depth knowledge of global public health issues and learn how to tackle them.
In an ever growing and dynamic world, the importance of prevention over cure is becoming a norm. The ease of travel can lead to the transfer of diseases from one corner of the world to the other. Examples of this have been seen in cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Ebola disease, Zika virus and antimicrobial resistant microbes. A way of preventing this occurrence is through the field of public health.
Public health is the science and art of prolonging life, preventing diseases and promoting health. This is usually done on a local, national or global scale. Depending on the degree of coverage, it is classified further into the categories of population health, international health and global health.
For example, determination of health outcomes is achieved through population health because it focusses on a sample of the population. A surveillance and prevention strategy to prevent spread of diseases between two or more countries is referred to as international public health. When this transcends beyond boundaries and is solved by collaboration, it is called global health.
Upon graduation, I plan to work in a multidisciplinary team, collaborating and finding solutions to issues related to the health of humans, animals and the environment. This may involve but not be limited to, working with the World Health Organization (WHO). Careers in public health are numerous, diverse and attractive to people from different fields (physicians, veterinarians, sociologists, marketing and public affairs). It may include working with the government, non-governmental organizations and international organizations like the WHO, Centres for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental protection agencies, Military, and World organization for Animal Health (OIE). Their roles include:
- Field epidemiologist
- Public health officer
- Public health advisor
- Health educator
- Health promotion programme coordinator
- Public health dentist
- Medical officer
- Public health nurse
- Public health analyst
- Public health veterinarian
In general, public health is concerned with health promotion on a population basis. It is a field that is multidisciplinary and is continuously evolving. Some of the careers listed above need a background in other professional fields (Nursing, Human medicine and Veterinary medicine) combined with a Masters or Doctorate degree in Public Health. One very interesting thing I love about public health is its ability to inform policies which are beneficial to everyone. It’s an exciting career path.