Every day, there are news stories about health epidemics affecting millions of people. Between climate change and childhood obesity, there are a wide range of public health concerns shaking our populations. Thanks to the advancements of modern medicine and technology, progress is being made. Research is being done. Treatment plans are being implemented. And its public health professionals facilitating all this change.
If you have an interested in getting involved and making a difference, you may be considering a career in ublic health. But before diving into this in-demand field, you may want to know just what you’re getting into yourself. What types of issues will you tackle in a public health career? Where can you make the most impact? Which demographics are in need? Whose life can you improve?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are among the top public health concerns of modern day:
- Alcohol & Substance Abuse
Alcohol abuse is no new concern, but is as prevalent as ever in present day. Excessive alcohol use can cause serious short-term health effects, such as alcohol poisoning and injuries, and its long-term effects include high blood pressure, liver disease, and even mental health problems. The CDC recommends imposing tax increases and stricter regulations around the purchase of alcohol to help reduce the number of alcohol-related health problems.
Drug abuse – particularly prescription drug overdose – has been a well-known and growing public health concern for the past few years. In fact, the opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency in 2017, the same year it caused 68% of all deaths by drug overdose. As a public health emergency, the country’s opioid crisis is demanding trained professionals in emergency response, substance use treatment, medical research, and more – to help reverse the heartbreaking effects and fatal overdose trends that opioid drugs have caused.
- Food Safety
Each year, 1 in 6 Americans get sick from eating contaminated food. Concerned with the public health, the CDC tracks food borne illnesses and works with the FDA to ensure proper food safety practices. Public health professionals that specialize in food safety and inspection are also in high demand.
- Anti-Microbial Resistance
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that antimicrobial resistance is “the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.” This is a growing public health concern in medicine specifically, and in small populations where disease is likely to spread fast.
- Heart Disease and Stroke
According to research from the American Heart Association, someone dies of cardiovascular disease every 38 seconds. And, on average, someone dies from a stroke every 3.7 minutes. As a result, heart health is one of the top concerns for physicians today.
There have been enormous strides made in the treatment and prevention of HIV, but there are still millions who die each year from HIV/AIDS. According to the WHO, more than 70 million people have contracted the infection since the epidemic first broke out, and about 35 million have died as a result. Today, there are around 37 million people living with HIV who may be in need of support.
- Motor-Vehicle Injuries
Distracted driving, drunk driving, and vehicle safety are among the top concerns for safety on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As a result, policies surrounding seatbelt usage, proper car seat installation and usage, and driver’s license testing are among the top concerns for public safety officials.
- Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
According to the CDC, obesity effects 93.3 million American adults and more than 13.7 million children. The rise of Americans’ weight has also been linked to the increase of other serious public health concerns, such as diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease. Since this sharp increase in obesity, there has been more awareness and education surrounding proper nutrition and physical activity. Public health educators have been paving the way for better nutrition and deepened self-care in communities.
- Teen Pregnancy
While the rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S. have reached record lows in the recent years, this remains a top concern for public health officials. In 2017, 194,377 babies were born to women between the ages of 15 and 19 years, for a birth rate of 18.8 per 1,000 women in this age group. This number is still significantly higher than in other western industrialized countries. Education and prevention are key areas for preventing teen pregnancy, and that is where public health professionals can play a role.
- Tobacco Use
The CDC states that “tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable diseases, disability, and death in the U.S.,” causing more than 480,000 deaths each year. Education and support for quitting have been key factors is reducing the number of smokers in recent years. Continual increases of tax on tobacco products has also worked to reduce the number of smoke-related illnesses.
- Climate Change and Air Pollution
Climate change is affecting human lives – and our health – in a variety of ways. According to the WHO, the change to our climate “threatens the essential ingredients of good health – clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter – and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health.”
Air pollution is among the top public health concerns related to our environment, as it affects the brain, heart and lungs. The WHO estimates that about 7 million people die each year by diseases caused by air pollution. The CDC recommends people manage their exposure to air pollution by using the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality indicator.
Where Do You Fit In?
If you would like to undertake any of these public health concerns, and make a difference in the lives of others, you need a launching point. A public health degree is the first place to start. Goodwin University offers a bachelor’s degree program, as well as a master’s degree program, in Public Health. Public Health graduates find exciting and rewarding careers, such as:
- Community Health Worker
- Disaster Preparedness Coordinator
- Environmental Health Specialist
- Health Educator
- Health Promotion Specialist
- Public Health Program Coordinator
- Research Assistant
- Disaster and Emergency Specialist
- Public Health Director (MPH)
- Epidemiologist (MPH)
- Sanitarian (MPH)
- Biostatician (MPH)
Our public health programs are flexible. Classes are offered days, nights, and weekends, too. Students may choose to study online, on campus, or a hybrid of the two. We understand that working toward a degree does not mean a break in your daily life, so you can work toward your career goals while maintaining a job and personal obligations.
If you would like to learn more about the Public Health programs at Goodwin University, call 800-889-3282, or visit us online to request more information.
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.