Research, health promotion, education, management and policy development are just a few of the pathways you could pursue as a public health professional.
Find out more about the broad academic areas that comprise public health at Gillings and the kinds of career paths that could be open to you.
Biostatistics involves the development and application of statistical science to human health and disease. Biostatisticians analyze data to determine the cause of illness and injury, identify health trends in communities, analyze risk factors, plan interventions, or evaluate statistical data for clinical trials. For example, you might estimate the number of deaths from gun violence, or analyze trends in cancer incidence.
Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Environmental Sciences and Engineering encompasses a broad array of factors that can influence human health and environmental quality. Such areas include but are not limited to studying and managing the quality of air, water, and soil, as well as noise control, hazardous waste management, and vector control. Knowledge about the interaction between humans and the environment can lead to solutions for environmental problems through means such as policy change. For example, you may examine how environmental factors contribute to asthma, cancer, or other diseases, or advocate for policy changes to improve water quality.
First Destinations of 2012-13 Environmental Science & Engineering Graduates
Environmental Health Career Profile (from Explorehealthcareers.com)
Environmental Science Overview (from Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
State Environmentalist Career Pathway (from Pfizer Guide to Careers in Public Health)
Epidemiology is often considered the “basic science” of public health. One of the benefits of a career in epidemiology is that you can take it in so many different directions and apply it to a wide range of problems.
Some epidemiologists work in the field investigating outbreaks of disease, seeking to determine the cause and trying to control its spread. Other epidemiologists design and implement studies to understand patterns of disease in society, such as the disproportionate prevalence of diabetes or cancer in a particular segment of the population. Epidemiologists often employ knowledge and tools from other fields ranging from sociology, psychology, and statistics to cellular and molecular biology.
First Destinations of 2012-13 Epidemiology Graduates
Epidemiology Career Profile (from Explorehealthcareers.com)
Epidemiologist Overview (from Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Pharmacoepidemiologist Career Pathway – Elizabeth Andrews, UNC CH AB ’75, MPH ’77, PhD ’90 (from Pfizer Guide to Careers in Public Health)
This public health concentration prepares individuals for leadership positions in health education planning, management and evaluation. Health Behavior students study a wide range of models and methods for developing, implementing, and monitoring behavioral and social change interventions to improve the health of individuals, groups and entire communities. For example, you may develop an intervention to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS, promote seatbelt use, or design health communications to reach individuals at risk for colon cancer.
First Destinations of 2012-13 Health Behavior Graduates
Behavioral Sciences/Health Education Career Profile (from Explorehealthcareers.com)
Health Educator Overview (from Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Health Policy and Management
Health Policy and Management involves the study of health care systems, including organization, quality, and demand, clinical and financial management, health care reform, health law, and policy analysis. For example, you may direct hospital services, analyze utilization patterns of healthcare, create policies for health insurance companies, or analyze the impact of Medicaid changes on quality of care.
First Destinations of 2012-13 Health Policy and Management Graduates
Health Services Administration Profile (from Explorehealthcareers.com)
Health Care Administrative Overviewfrom Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Management Policy Advisor Career Pathway Janet Porter, PhD, former Associate Dean of Executive Education at UNC CH (from Pfizer Guide to Careers in Public Health)
Maternal and Child Health
This public health field focuses on improving the health of women, children, and families in domestic and international settings through research, program planning, training, and policy development. In preparing the next generation of MCH leaders, major emphasis is placed on population-based solutions to complex health problems that are multi-factorial in origin. For example, you may collect and use data to improve programs and decision making in family planning, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Or, reach clinicians, community members, and policy makers with resources that help pregnant and parenting smokers quit.
Public health nutrition applies the physiological, biochemical, and behavioral aspects of nutrition to the health of human populations. For example, you may advocate for nutrition-related policy changes, manage nutrition services for a school system, conduct research for a food manufacturer or hospital researcher, or work to decrease nutrient deficiencies in high risk populations.
Public Health Leadership
This area of public health focuses on the population level of health care, and seeks to build knowledge and skills related to leadership, assessment, policy development and assurance for current health care practitioners. Careers are available in a variety of public health leadership positions.
Public health professionals are often engaged in improving the health of the world’s populations through research, service, and teaching, i.e. global health. As global health is multidisciplinary, there is potential to work in the global arena in all of the above specialties.
The following websites provide additional information about careers in the field of public health. For assistance with finding employment in public health, please visit Career Services.