Public Health Concentrations: Choose Your Path

By: RandyYoumans

Public Health Concentrations: Choose Your Path!

Public health is paramount for Public Health Concentrations for strong communities and families. It provides health services in rural areas, immunizes children, and promotes safety on the job. According to the American Public Health Association, adult smokers in America saw their death rates decrease from 42% in 1964-1997 to 25% between 1997 and 1997.

Public health professionals strive to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities. Their work encompasses a wide range of disciplines, such as community health and epidemiology, disaster management, and health policy development.

Concentrations in Public Health

Public health practitioners usually specialize in an area of expertise. Epidemiologists monitor outbreaks, health educators promote healthy living, and health system managers enhance healthcare delivery systems. Public health pros can work across many fields. Public health specialists possess a wealth of skills, from scientific knowledge to policy development and community outreach. When considering which career path is right for them, students in public health should consider how their interests align with the necessary skills required for various positions. Researching different industries and work environments will help narrow down options; here are nine concentrations available to public health professionals to choose from.

Community Health

Community health professionals build relationships with their clients, connect them to healthcare providers, remove obstacles to care and advocate for changes in the system. They specialize in working with underserved and marginalized populations to protect their rights within healthcare. This concentration may lead to advanced degrees in social work or medicine. Community health advisors, wellness coordinators or outreach specialists are some of the roles available: community health advisor, wellness coordinator or outreach specialist.

  • Featured Role – Community Health Advisor
  • Community health advisors collect health data and collaborate with individuals to promote wellness. They offer support and counseling to the community, creating reports for healthcare educators and providers. In addition, they educate people about housing options, food choices, mental health needs, and healthcare services available within their region. Furthermore, a community health advisor may assist clients in enrolling in Medicare or Medicaid plans.
  • Community health advisors typically work in a variety of workplace environments, such as hospitals, colleges and universities, private companies and nonprofit organizations.
  • Expertise: The Community Health Advisors possess extensive expertise in public and community health, healthcare administration and government services.

Disaster Management

Disaster management’s primary mission is to assist communities in need. Professionals in disaster management help communities manage a range of disaster situations, such as hurricanes, fires and human-made catastrophes. They create emergency response plans encompassing four phases: preparation, response, recovery and mitigation. Roles such as emergency management director, general operations manager or manager social and community services may exist within this field.

  • Featured Role – Emergency Management Director
  • Emergency management officers are accountable for creating plans and procedures communities use to prepare for emergencies and disasters. They lead the response effort after a natural or man-made catastrophe, often working alongside public safety and health officials. Furthermore, they coordinate federal funding applications, organize training sessions and perform damage assessments.
  • Common Work Environments: Emergency managers often work for state or local government agencies. Private corporations, hospitals, colleges, universities and healthcare providers could all be potential employers.
  • Expertise: Emergency management directors coordinate disaster planning and response efforts.


Public health is increasingly turning towards epidemiology. According to the National Institutes of Health, epidemiologists study factors that determine disease incidence and absence; for instance, COVID-19. They collect data and determine how many people have been affected by it before investigating causes and patterns. The field of epidemiology encompasses many subspecialties like environmental health or injury management; furthermore, epidemiologists typically work as clinical or academic researchers as well as applied epidemiologists.

Applied Epidemiologist

  • Description Epidemiologists investigate the causes and patterns of disease, looking for trends in their spread and incidence. They coordinate public health research efforts and create strategies to treat and prevent illnesses. Their responsibilities include collecting data, analysing it, communicating with people, coordinating safety plans with public officials, managing programs and informing people about diseases.
  • Epidemiologists typically work in offices or laboratories. Local and state health departments employ Epidemiologists, while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (CDC) serves as a major employer at the federal level.
  • Expertise: Most epidemiologists possess either a doctorate or master’s degree in medicine or epidemiology and are experienced in areas such as infectious diseases or environmental health.

Health Education and Communication

Communication and health professionals educate communities on wellness practices that will promote long-term wellbeing. They also create strategies to enhance both community and individual health outcomes, working closely with families, young people, and professionals alike. With a public health concentration, professionals have the flexibility to specialize in either communication or education. Roles within this field may include technical writer, public relations specialist or health educator specialist.

  • Featured Role – Health Education Specialist
  • Health educators assess health needs and develop educational programs to address them. They inform individuals and communities about potential hazards and how to manage them effectively, as well as providing assistance with accessing healthcare services or offering training programs.
  • Common workplace environments: Healthcare facilities, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, private businesses and public health agencies all employ healthcare education specialists.
  • Expertise: Health education specialists draw upon their extensive knowledge in educational theory and health behavior to create effective educational materials.

Health Policy

Health policy concentration aims to identify the most efficient solutions for social and health problems. This field consists of professionals who analyze, present, write, and petition the public regarding policy impacts on various demographics. There are numerous career options in healthcare policy within both government and private sectors – this concentration could lead to roles such as political scientist, medical and health service manager, or healthcare consulting specialist.

  • Featured Role – Medical and Health Services Manager
  • Medical and health service managers coordinate the business activities of healthcare providers. Their responsibilities include setting organizational objectives, monitoring compliance to regulatory requirements, training staff members, supervising their work plans, budgeting facility finances, coordinating cross-departmental communication channels and maintaining records.
  • The typical workplace environment: Health and medical managers typically work in hospitals or nursing homes.
  • Expertise Required: Health and medical managers oversee healthcare operations as well as administrative duties. Some positions may require experience with clinical work as well.

Health Systems Management

Management of healthcare systems pertains to the administrative side of public health. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in this area plan, direct, and coordinate healthcare and medical services; they’re accountable for setting objectives, managing finances, and improving service quality. Aspiring managers within this field could take on roles such as clinical managers, nursing home administrators or health information managers.

  • Featured Role – Nursing Home Administrator
  • Nursing home administrators are accountable for upholding standards of care in nursing homes. They manage and plan operations of the facility, train staff, monitor policies and standards, budget expenditures and report to regulatory agencies.
  • Administrators with this specialty typically work in retirement communities, independent living facilities, nursing homes and independent living units.
  • Expertise: As administrator in a nursing home, you must possess expertise in administration, general healthcare and elderly care.

International Health

International health is a focus on low-income communities and displaced individuals. This concentration involves professionals working with people in these countries to address problems such as mental health, gender-based violence, age-related concerns and more. The international health perspective encompasses nearly all roles within public health – emergency management director, laboratory scientist or health information manager being just three examples.

Laboratory Scientist is the featured role

  • Health scientists conduct field and laboratory research on global health issues. Additionally, they conduct surveys and field interviews. Typically, these experts specialize in one field such as epidemiology or virology.
  • Typical Work Environments: Health scientists are employed by governmental and intergovernmental agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the United Nations. They may also work for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that specialize in healthcare care.
  • Expertise: Many laboratory scientist positions in international health require field research and clinical science expertise.

Maternal and Child Health

Maternal and child health encompasses the health care of women, children, adolescents and their families. This field requires professionals who educate women about family planning and reproductive services; monitor health issues; make policy changes; offer outreach services to reach the right audience. Examples include administrative researchers, maternal-child health educators and behavioral scientists.

  • Featured Role: Child and Maternal Health Educator
  • Description Child and maternal health educators provide counseling on topics such as nutrition, hygiene, and disease prevention for children. Families with limited financial resources may benefit from these initiatives by creating educational programs or working alongside them to provide financial assistance.
  • Common Workplace Environments: Maternal and child healthcare educators can be found working for both local/state governments as well as non-profit organizations.
  • Expertise: These professionals possess a deep understanding of public health, disease prevention, and maternal/child health.

Occupational Health

Occupational health professionals inspect workplaces to guarantee employees use safe practices. They assess workplace safety, inspect and design workplace procedures, as well as educate employees. Whether in an indoor or outdoor workplace setting, industrial hygienists, environmental protection officers or ergonomists all play an important role in occupational health services provision.

  • Role: Industrial Hygienist
  • Definition: Industrial hygienists assess, measure and identify workplace hazards to protect workers against exposure to hazardous substances like toxic chemicals or air pollutants. They conduct worksite assessments to detect potential issues and suggest corrective steps if needed.
  • Examples of workplace environments: Occupational health specialists are often employed by local, state and federal government agencies, industrial manufacturing facilities and construction firms.
  • Expertise: Most industrial hygienists possess training in physical sciences and an understanding of environmental law.

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