Public Health Medical Programs

If you'd like to work as a doctor in a public health environment, then studies in public health medicine may be for you. Continue reading to learn more about the dual degree programs, career options and potential salaries associated with this rigorous area of study.

Is a Public Health Medical Program for Me?

Career Overview

As our society continues to age and expand, clinical researchers, physicians and health managers with public health knowledge are needed to help reduce disease within urban and rural communities. Medical programs with an emphasis on public health allow medical students to gain a deeper understanding of the social and environmental factors affecting the health and well-being of individual patients. They learn about health disparities, the challenges of developing community health programs and cultural influences on health. Public health medical professionals often use their specialized skills to assume leadership roles within healthcare facilities, public administration, policy and research.

Career Options

Once you've completed the education and training requirements, you might work as a medical doctor in rural or urban health, or hold a position in a nursing home, hospital or other healthcare facility. Medical and public health professionals are also needed in government at the local, state and federal levels. International and local nonprofit organizations, as well as research think tanks, also hire doctors with public health expertise. Additional careers in public health may lead to a position as a health policy analyst, health administrator or epidemiologist.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted an 18%, or faster-than-average, growth in employment of physicians and surgeons nationwide between 2012-2022. A 23%, or much-faster-than-average, increase in jobs was projected for medical and health services managers during the same period. As of May 2013, the BLS reported that the average annual salary for medical and health service managers was $101,340, while physicians and surgeons in general earned an average of $191,880 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Public Health Medicine?

Educational Options and Requirements

Programs for medical professionals interested in public health are most commonly offered at the graduate level and lead to a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Master of Public Health (M.P.H.). In this dual degree program, you'll satisfy the course requirements for both the medical and public health schools, which typically takes about 4-5 years to complete. Additionally, some medical programs offer concentrations in public health and related fields, such as urban medicine. To prepare for entry into medical school, you'll need a bachelor's degree in a scientific or mathematical discipline; undergraduate programs in public health can also be found on campus and online.

Curriculum

In a public health program, you'll take courses in biostatistics, health services management, epidemiology and health care evaluation. As a medical student, you'll also study anatomy and physiology, human biochemistry, molecular genetics, neurosciences and hematology. As part of your medical training, you'll participate in supervised clinical rotations, through which you'll learn how to diagnose patients, run lab tests and read medical charts. You'll most likely complete a practicum during the latter part of your program, whereby you may apply your public health knowledge in a medical setting.

After graduating from medical school, you'll enter a medical residency program. Residencies are usually related to your area of specialization and take 2-7 years to complete.

Certification and Licensing

You'll need a state-issued license to practice as a physician, which requires passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (www.usmle.org). After completing a residency program and passing an exam, you may also obtain board certification in public health and general preventative medicine through the American Board of Medical Specialists (www.abms.org). The National Board of Public Health Examiners offers the Certified Public Health credential, a voluntary certification that requires a degree from an accredited school and a passing score on an exam (www.publichealthexam.org).

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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