A masters degree in public health online program takes a preventative approach to health care as a community, rather than seeking to heal individuals.
The primary difference between public health and medical care or professional health care is the focus on keeping groups of population healthy instead of focusing on treating individuals who are ill.
Graduates who earn a master degree in public health (MPH degree) can go on to careers in a variety of academic and policy-related capacities such as epidemiology, nutrition, global health, public health policy and public health practice.
What is Public Health?
Public health focuses on the policies and overarching health treatment plans designed to keep communities healthy. Health-related advertising campaigns on nutrition, washing your hands, exercise and not smoking are all initiatives of public health and public health policy. Laws against smoking in some states, bans against trans fat and other health-related legislature is all a result of public health advocates. Disaster management is another facet of the public health field.
Some online colleges and universities offer accelerated online MPH programs, and depending on the program you choose, you may have the option of completing a full-time program in one year, or completing a part-time program in two to four years. Program requirements and credit hours vary depending on the program focus.
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Both campus and online master of public health programs offer a range of coursework and curriculum focus depending on the way in which you want to practice public health. You may choose to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA) degree, or a Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH). Professionals who want to go into environmental health learn about how to measure air quality, the importance of food protection, regulations governing hazardous waste management, water quality, noise control and other environmental issues. Biostatistics professionals have a more statistical-oriented curriculum focused on gathering and analyzing data. Epidemiologists learn how to identify and eliminate trends and nutritionists learn how to promote healthy eating and exercise.
Public health educators are typically professionals with a master degree in public health who have chosen to apply their skills in an educational setting. Public health educators work in a variety of settings, from working directly with students in secondary schools and universities, to working with at-risk and general populations.
In schools, public health professionals develop curriculums with age-specific health information and care advice. In a secondary school setting, for example, public health educators may cover sexually transmitted diseases or drug use. Health educators in government settings typically administer State-mandated programs and work with non-profit organizations. State-employed health educators also create the materials that other public health officials use and distribute to the media and to families around the country.
Professionals who earn online public health master degree programs and go into academic and research degrees in public health are responsible for programs and initiatives to keep populations healthy. Epidemiologists, for example, study the causes and spread of disease, and work to develop ways to control disease. Applied epidemiologists work for State health agencies and respond to disease outbreaks. Research epidemiologists study diseases in laboratories to determine how to prevent future outbreaks.
Other public health professionals who earn a master degree in public health work to shape the tools and techniques that medical professionals use to treat patients, and still others research and implement global health policies. Academic and research opportunities exist with the World Health Organization and other international or national government initiatives.
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