Public Health Concentrations: How to Pick the Right One for You

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A career in public health offers numerous opportunities for graduates. From working with government agencies on global health issues to serving in leadership roles in hospital systems, public health practitioners can have a far-reaching positive impact on the lives of others. Pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is a key step toward high-level employment in this sector.

If you are thinking about getting an MPH, you will also need to consider what concentration you will want to pursue. Two of the most prominent concentrations – epidemiology and health policy and management – prepare users for distinct employment opportunities. Let’s explore what you can expect from each area of study.

The Epidemiology Concentration

MPH programs featuring a concentration on epidemiology can prepare students for careers in areas of public health focused specifically on identifying the source of health situations and diseases. For example, much of the work performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention falls under the category of epidemiology. It includes:

  • Analyzing data pertaining to public health situations to identify underlying trends.
  • Unpacking the health implications of major public incidents, such as natural disasters and terrorism.
  • Exploring the root causes of common injuries to identify trends and opportunities to enact preventive strategies.
  • Responding to epidemics or similar emergency incidents.

If working in any of those ways sounds exciting to you, with their focus on problem solving and community health, then MPH programs that offer a concentration in epidemiology could be a good fit. The online MPH program at Regis College offers the epidemiology concentration, and to get a clearer idea of what you can expect in such a learning environment, consider the makeup of our curriculum. Some of the courses included in our epidemiology concentration are:

  • Observational and Interventional Study Design: A course focused on research methods specific to epidemiology health care efforts.
  • Advanced Analysis of Epidemiologic Studies: A course that helps students understand how to contextualize and understand information gathered during epidemiologic research projects.
  • Data Management and Analysis: A course focused on how to gather, maintain and use data effectively in the field.

This is just a sampling of a few courses. The MPH concentration in epidemiology also covers matters relating to infection and chronic disease, as well as advanced practice in the sector.

The Health Policy and Management Concentration

Making the big-picture decisions impacting the health care industry is under more scrutiny as the U.S. health care system has become a hot-button political issue. Regardless of one’s political perspective, working in health policy and management creates an opportunity to influence the future of the health care sector and promote community health initiatives.

The health policy and management concentration can prepare students for work roles involving:

  • Analyzing existing policies and regulatory legislation and getting involved in either improving those policies or creating new ones.
  • Providing leadership within health systems in order to fuel performance gains in the organization.
  • Engaging in research efforts to promote community health and develop data-based solutions to industry problems.

These tasks often require a blend of management, administrative and data analysis skills. They also require a deep knowledge of industry best practices and thought leadership. As such, a few of the key courses included in our online MPH program are:

  • Health Ethics: A course that explores the underlying ethics associated with health care practice and provides insights into industry ideals.
  • Economics of Health Care: A class that delves into the economic realities of the health care industry to prepare individuals for administrative roles.
  • Health Policy and Management and Perspectives: A course in which students will have an opportunity to learn about existing policy and management issues as well as the theories and ideas surrounding these issues.

Other classes in the curriculum cover issues ranging from state-level policies to dealing with the contemporary issues facing the industry. The health policy and management concentration can be a great fit if you’re seeking a career involved in these types of high-level public health decisions.

Choosing a Concentration for Your Goals

An online MPH degree can help students prepare for careers in a wide range of fields – from environmental health and occupational health to administration and public policy development. Selecting the right concentration is a matter of aligning your career interests with each specialization. If you want to learn more, we’d be happy to talk. Reach out to Regis College today and our admissions team can help you learn more about the program and how it could fit your needs.

 

Recommended Readings:

Is Public Health a Good Career for Me?

A career after an MPH: What are your options?

 

Sources:

Specialize your MPH in Health Policy and Management by Regis College

Specialize your MPH in Epidemiology by Regis College

Online MPH Curriculum by Regis College