Public health is a field that seemed to hit everyone's radar recently, mostly due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The field seeks to protect the public health by studying how disease is spread and to then devise methods for containing it. Public health workers are also hard at work in laboratories and hospitals. They strategize for ways to disseminate inoculations and educate people to certain dangers to their health and well-being. For instance, public health workers have advised people to wash their hands correctly and avoid public places during the pandemic, but they also educate people as to the dangers inherent in their pain medications.
This field is as important as it is diverse. If you are working toward a degree in public health, or even if you’ve recently graduated, you might want to consider bookmarking this page so that you have a ready set of resources on hand to help boost your education and your career.
Resources for Public Health Students
Given the rise of COVID-19 and the rise in awareness around public health, it's no wonder that you might want to join this fascinating and life-saving field. You'll naturally need to earn a degree before you can work in either a government institution or hospital. Thus, you need to find the very best public health programs available.
Once you know which aspect of public health interests you the most, whether that's public health education, epidemiology, or systems science, you’ll need to find a program that is strong in that area. One way to help discern the strongest programs is by assessing their accreditation. Accreditation is a credential schools and programs earn to prove that they have satisfied a set of stringent guidelines set forth by an independent agency.
For public health, there are two accrediting bodies that specialize in the field:
If your program is not yet accredited by either of those specialized agencies, you must make sure that your program is, at a minimum, regionally accredited by one of the following agencies:
Questions About Financial Aid
Before you take your first college course, it is vital to design a plan for financing your education. The cost of education continues to rise, along with its importance in the workforce, so it's never too early to start learning about the scholarships, grants, and loans you'll need to pay for your education. The first, and best, options of these to consider are scholarships.
Scholarships are essentially free money that various foundations provide to students for an array of reasons. Some will only award funds to students of public health, while some get more specific and will only reward students with scholarships who have a specific public health interest, such as epidemiology. You can also find more general scholarships that will help you out based more on the school you're attending or your hometown or state. There are also scholarships directed toward a specific gender, race, socioeconomic background, and more. Find a selection of scholarships that might suit you and apply to them all.
Grants are another way to finance your education. These differ from scholarships in that they often award specific research projects or other activities. They usually don't need to be repaid, but some ask that you repay the funds with work hours rather than money. If you receive this type of grant, you may need to spend a few years working for a state public health office. Regardless, you won't accrue interest on your tuition dollars and you’ll still be paid for the position you hold.
There is one special form of grant that you should be aware of, especially if you come from a financially disadvantaged background. The Pell Grants have helped countless students achieve their dream of completing college, and more.
Loans are probably the most universal way to finance a college education. When you enroll for classes you should fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is your ticket to finding the best federal and private student loans. If you need a loan, make sure you consider both options diligently before applying for either federal or private loans. A federal student loan often has more favorable repayment plans as well as lower interest rates. However, if your parents are looking to take out a loan on your behalf, or you have a co-signer with excellent credit, that may not be the case. Additionally, some financial aid offices will use your FAFSA form as a blanket application for a wide range of scholarships and grants.
Public Health Associations for Students
During your student years you might feel that it's too early to join a professional association. However, if you join a public health association as a student, you will not only help create a bridge to the working world, but you may also enhance your studies. This is because association membership includes many educational resources such as journals, newsletters, and annual conferences. There may even be a chapter on your campus where you can meet up with fellow public health students.
If your campus doesn't yet have a chapter, consult with your department or the association itself. Associations often have materials and other supports for students who wish to expand their reach on campus.
- American Public Health Association:
This is perhaps the foremost public health association. As a member of APHA, you'll be privy to professional development opportunities, special periodicals including the American Journal of Public Health, local public health communities, and more.
- National Association of County and City Health Officials:
Students and professionals alike benefit tremendously from their membership in NACCHO. Their Journal of Public Health Management and Practice is sure to discuss our approach to COVID-19 for years to come.
- Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE):
If you have a passion for public health education, SOPHE is the society for you. The COVID-19 pandemic has many lessons to teach us, chief among them being the need for public awareness and action. SOPHE members can work to ensure that these lessons are never forgotten.
- Association of Public Health Laboratories:
Public health laboratories are one of the keys to stemming massive outbreaks of disease. Thus, if your goal is to serve the public health with a lab coat and beaker, this is the association for you.
- International Society for the Systems Sciences:
Number crunchers of the world, unite! While that is not their motto, the ISSS will help you find colleagues, scholarly papers, and more.
Student or Open Access Journals
Reading a steady stream of public health journals and other related materials is a practice you should start as soon as possible. These periodicals contain the most cutting edge scientific studies as well as general articles. If you are current with the industry and on top of the hot-button issues of the day, you can use that information to inform your school projects. When you need to write a research paper, you will already have a good idea of what topics are the most timely and ultimately the most relevant to your working life.
You might consider subscribing to these journals, but you may be able to find them for free in your university library. If not, ask the librarian in charge of periodicals to see if they can subscribe.
Public Health Study Resources
When you have a passion for something, you can't learn enough. These days, there are many online resources you can exploit for additional learning. They may discuss terms and topics in a new way so that you can gain a firmer grasp on the subject. It can also be a good practice to investigate certain topics for upcoming courses so that you are primed for your semester. Since many online public health study resources are free, there's no reason not to peruse a few supplemental lectures, courses, or other resources.
- Khan Academy - Statistics and Probability:
There's little that the Khan Academy doesn't teach. If you need to brush up on your statistical skills, there's a good probability that you can do so here. This free resource will be a boon when it comes time for exams, or to get ahead of a semester in statistics.
- Dr Nic's Maths and Stats:
If your passion is for public health, but you find dealing with the numbers tricky, Dr Nic's videos can help you overcome any obstacle. She covers statistics, spreadsheets, and more.
- Introduction to Epidemiology from the CDC:
This is a terrific intro to a deep and complex subject. Their discussion of the topic will help you gain a deeper understanding and will elevate your studies.
- Public Health 101 from the CDC:
This is a terrific resource for those who are finding that COVID has sparked an interest in public health. You can review this before you start your studies, or to help brush up on core principles after you're already a master.
Public health? Yep, there's an app for that. Since the advent of smartphones and other mobile devices, you've been able to pull up all sorts of information to the palm of your hand. While there are apps that you might use as a professional, there are even more that are more immediately applicable to your life as a student. Even games can be a vital part of how we solve public health problems. The following electronic tools are sure to enhance your education, and perhaps your career, too.
There are also more general apps listed below that will help you aggregate news and other information sources, as well as tools to keep you organized on campus. Though it's good to look up from your phone from time to time, when you use your smartphone in an intelligent, measured way, it can be an invaluable tool.
- Health IQ App:
Sharpen your knowledge with this app from the CDC. You can use it to test your knowledge or that of your peers. New questions are added all the time.
- Solve the Outbreak:
Ever come across a brilliant article that you need for an upcoming research paper, but don't have time to finish it? With the pocket app you can save and tag articles and websites for later retrieval on your mobile or laptop.
Feedly is a brilliant news reader that will help you aggregate items from select news sources. Feedly helps you sort through the news to find exactly what pertains most to your studies and your personal interests, as well.
All public health students and professionals need to be organized. You're no exception. Evernote is a terrific way to maneuver your academic and personal life.
Public health internships are a terrific way to not only gain college credit but to earn valuable experience in the field. Once you’re a third year student, you should start looking around for an internship. You can find public health internships in your local city government, state government, or local hospitals. There may also be consulting firms in your area that focus on public health.
You can also find internships with the federal government or larger non-profit organizations. Those might entail travel to DC or even abroad. Considering that public health issues are global in scope, your internship opportunities are only limited by your imagination.
Resources for Students and Professionals
Public Health Certification Options
Your public health degree should be top priority. Once you graduate and enter your desired field, however, you can consider pursuing a certification that will put your credentials above and beyond the norm. Not only does certification reinforce the fact that you are a knowledgeable professional but each year you hold your credentials will further reinforce your dedication to your field. That is because you need to take ongoing courses to maintain your certification.
Further, your dedication to your certification will keep you abreast of best practices, the most current research, and will help you stand out in the crowd.
Landing your first job after college is not an easy task. To ensure the highest chance of success, you should try to complete at least one internship and even consider working on research projects or international relief efforts. Nevertheless, you may still have to take time before you find that perfect fit. To help you gain a leg up into your field, you can take temporary assignments. As a public health graduate, you may be able to find temporary jobs in hospitals where you can get to know potential colleagues and otherwise build experience in your general field. Your knowledge of healthcare delivery will expand while you pay the bills and send resumes.
Resources for Public Health Professionals
Professional Public Health Associations
When you start working, it's vital to join and become active in a professional public health association. Membership in a professional organization will ensure that you remain connected to the wider world of public health. Your dues will also provide benefits such as access to learning materials, journals, and invitations to annual conferences.
Associations often host job boards for when you need to upgrade your position. They also keep you in touch with public health officials nationwide, if not globally. This allows you to compare notes, work to refine your best practices, and share research. Who knows? You might team up with colleagues and conduct a wide ranging research project that might one day stem the spread of the next global pandemic.
Popular Public Health Journals
As a professional in such a science-based field, you need to stay on top of the latest research. There's no better way than by subscribing to one or more public health journals. You can ask your employer to subscribe to a few and start a library that you and your colleagues can peruse from time to time. Many also have electronic versions that you can load onto your tablet or ebook device for later reading on the commute home.
Industry Conferences for Public Health
Public health conferences are a fantastic way to not only get out of the office and fraternize with your national colleagues, but they're one of the best ways to put your finger on the pulse of the field. Conferences host a plethora of speakers, panel discussions, and vendors. You might meet the author(s) of a study that changed how you view your practice, or you might be a presenter yourself.
There are all sorts of public health conferences going on every year. Some are national in scope, others are international. Still others may be regional and will allow you to meet locally based professionals who may be facing the same sorts of issues in their towns that you are in yours.
- American Public Health Association Conference:
This is the must-attend event of the public health calendar. Each year, professionals are welcome to submit proposals and present their work to the conference.
- Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE):
Each year, professionals in the field of environmental epidemiology meet to present their work, fellowship, and learn more about their field. On top of the stimulating lectures and discussions, ISEE makes time for social hours where you can let your hair down among some of epidemiology's best and brightest.
- International Conference on Public Healthcare and Epidemiology:
This mammoth conference covers more ground than most. There are numerous scientific tracks for you to choose from that will enlighten you on topics that range from Public Health Strategies in Dermatology to Communications and Informatics in Public Health.
- Society for Public Health Education:
Public health educators will not want to miss this annual conference. The event features workshops, roundtable discussions, and more.
- National Conference on Health Communication:
The public health often depends on the ability to communicate vital messages to the public. This has become all the more evident in the wake of COVID-19. Health communication professionals can take the time to meet at this conference to determine how to continue to maintain a standard of excellence.