The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. From our economy and politics to the day-to-day routine of working from home, everything has changed. The healthcare industry was, perhaps, the industry most affected. However, if the global pandemic has taught us anything, it is the utter importance of healthcare and our healthcare heroes.
Whether you have been always imagined yourself working in a health-related field, or you have recently been inspired to change careers, you may be ready to take a next step. But with so many paths available, you may be unsure which career is best for you. Nursing and public health are two fields that share many common threads. Both are designed for those who want to make a positive difference in the world and help others in need. Both fields also require compassion, dedication, and care for others.
Which career path is right for you? Read on as we weigh the benefits, the outcomes, and the key differences of nursing vs. public health.
As President Barack Obama once said, “America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.” Nursing is a challenging but rewarding career. Hospitals cannot run without several nurses in each department, at all times, around the clock. Nursing involves direct patient care, and, more often than not, it is a role that quite literally makes the difference between life and death. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is growing at a faster than average rate.
There are many benefits to pursuing a career in nursing. For starters, there are many more options within nursing than the typical healthcare role. When a student sets out to become a dentist, for example, he or she must go to dental school. Nursing, on the other hand, is a field of study that offers many different options for programs and careers. Students may choose an associate degree to quickly begin working as a registered nurse (RN). They may later choose to pursue a fast-track bachelor’s degree, or even master’s degree, to advance their education.
In addition, they can fulfill roles in various specializations of nursing. For example, registered nurses can work in schools, specialize in areas like dialysis or trauma, or even pursue certifications in neonatal nursing, oncology nursing, and more.
The types of nurses you can become, and the areas of nursing you can thrive in, are diverse and limitless. Some more examples of unique roles to consider include:
- Community Health Nurse
- Nurse educator
- Summer camp nurse
- School nurse
- Telephone triage nurse
- Travel nurse
In addition to the variety of work, some other benefits to becoming a nurse include:
- Patient interaction. Nurses get up-close and personal with patients and reap the emotional benefits. From rocking newborn babies to holding the hand of a dear senior, there are many heartfelt moments for nurses in nearly every setting.
- Flexibility. It is easy to find unusual shifts or part-time positions in the field of nursing. In fact, these are common.
- Opportunity to see the world. Nurses are needed everywhere, and some are required to travel for their job.
If would like to connect directly with patients and make a difference in their lives, then you may be meant for the role of a nurse. As the saying goes, “Save one life, you’re a hero. Save 100 lives, you’re a nurse.”
Equally as important, public health professionals also save lives, but in a much different way. The public health field involves caring for populations at a macro level. Millions of people around the world are alive today thanks to public health initiatives and breakthroughs. Vaccinations, family planning, road safety laws, tobacco restrictions, and even clean air and water standards are saving lives each day. In fact, in the U.S. alone, these programs have increased our life expectancy by nearly 30 years.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has only amplified the importance of public health. Thanks to the development of the current vaccines being produced by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, lives are being protected. There is hope on the horizon for many communities, as people start to develop antibodies and parts of the world work slowly toward the goal of achieving herd immunity. Of course, the case count also depends on continued mask-wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand washing, but the vaccines and treatments that have been developed over the past year have been a remarkable achievement in modern medicine.
If you are interested in conducting ground-breaking research or creating programs to protect the greater good, a public health position may be for you. Some of the biggest benefits in pursuing a degree and career in public health include:
- Being at the forefront of medical research. Many roles in public health require professionals to be in the loop with the latest data, technologies, and resources.
- Working with a variety of populations. Everyone of all ages needs public healthcare services. You will encounter people from all walks of life with a career in this industry.
- Plenty of opportunities. Nurses are not the only ones who are in demand within the healthcare industry. According to the BLS, the demand for public health workers will jump 15 percent over the next several years. That equals about 2.4 million new jobs.
Students who choose to pursue a public health degree go on to land roles such as:
- Community Health Worker
- Disaster Preparedness Coordinator
- Environmental Health Specialist
- Health Educator
- Health Promotion Specialist
- Public Health Program Coordinator
- Research Assistant
Whether you decide nursing is for you, or you would like to address bigger-picture public health concerns, you will need a great program to help you reach your career goals. At Goodwin University, students can expect career-focused and flexible curriculums that meet their scheduling needs. We understand that you have obligations outside of school. Many classes are offered days, nights, and even weekends to accommodate the varying work and personal lives of our students. Many classes are offered on-campus, online, or in a hybrid format of the two.
Whether you are just out of high school, have completed a degree in a different field, or want to continue climbing the ranks within your current healthcare job, Goodwin University has the perfect program for you. Learn about our public health vs. nursing programs by calling 1-800-889-3282. You may also visit us online to request more information about the nursing programs, or click here to request more information about our public health programs.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.