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DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT PUBLIC HEALTH
What is public health?
Public health addresses health concerns of communities at risk for disease and injury. The three primary tasks of public health are:
- “assessment and monitoring of the health of communities and populations at risk to identify health problems and priorities;
- formulating public policies, in collaboration with community and government leaders, designed to solve identified local and national health problems and priorities;
- assuring that all populations have access to appropriate and cost-effective care, including health promotion and disease prevention services, and evaluation of the effectiveness of that care”
(from: American Society of public Health
Career opportunities in public health are diverse, and include such fields as: Health Services Administration, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Health Education/Behavioral Science, Environmental Health, International Health, Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition, Public Health Practice/Program Management.
Applying To Graduate Programs in Public Health
Degrees in public health include:
- MPH = Master of Public Health
- MHA = Master of Health Administration
- DrPH = Doctor of Public Health
- MSPH = Master of Science in Public Health
- PhD = Doctor of Philosophy
In general, the MPH, MHA, and DrPH degrees are oriented toward practice in public health settings, such as health departments, managed care organizations, community-based programs, hospitals, international agencies, state and federal agencies, etc. The MSPH and PhD programs are oriented toward careers in academics and research.
- Students seeking a degree in public health come from a variety of educational backgrounds. Unlike other health professional degree programs, such as medical or dental school, there are no uniform prerequisites for applying to public health schools. However it is important to research individual schools, checking to see if they require specific undergraduate coursework.
- Some public health programs require that applicants work experience in the public health sector before applying.
- The majority of schools require GRE test scores, but may consider other standardized tests such as MCAT, DAT, GMAT, or LSAT. Again, this varies greatly from individual schools.
- To find and select public health schools you should begin your search with the Association of Schools of Public Health, which lists accredited programs.
- The centralized application service for public health schools is SOPHAS (Schools of Public Health Application Service). While most public health schools participate in SOPHAS, there are a few that do not. Be sure to research individual schools regarding their application procedures.
General Harvard resources in public health
General resources include:
Harvard Resources Specifically For Public Health and Health Policy
Resources specific to Public Health and Health Policy include:
- Center for International Development: Harvard’s primary center for research on sustainable international development. They offer CID-funded World Teach, Summer Internships, Undergraduate Associates Program, and CID Summer Research Grants. They also list external organizations sponsoring internships/volunteer opportunities
- Harvard Health Policy Society: A a student organization that strives to bring together students to discuss current issues in health policy and health care.
- Harvard Global Health Institute: Be sure to see Considering Careers in Global Health: exploring global health careers at Harvard University and beyond. Interdisciplinary initiative focused on global health issues. Includes Harvard affiliated international health internship listings and a range of external international health opportunities.
- Harvard School of Public Health: This site does not contain job listings, but provides detailed information about HSPH’s research centers and institutes, research faculty, and research programs. Contact faculty who are pursuing areas of interest.
- Health Policy at Harvard: Descriptions of undergraduate and graduate courses and academic programs related to health policy, a listing of health policy lectures and workshops, links to student organizations interested in health policy, and list of health policy research centers and faculty research interests within the Harvard community.
- Interfaculty Initiative in Health Policy (IIHP): IIHP produces “The Blue Book: A Course Guide for Harvard Undergraduates Interested in Health Policy” which can be downloaded from their website and includes a range of courses related to health policy. IIHP has also established a Certificate in Health Policy. Students eligible for the Certificate must complete sufficient coursework and a senior thesis or equivalent in health policy.
- Kennedy School of Government: Information about KSG’s research centers and institutes, faculty, and programs.
- Weatherhead Center for International Affairs: Largest international research center within Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and offers programs and some funding for undergraduate students.
Print Publications on Public Health
The following publication are available in the OCS Library, Health Career Shelves, F & G:
- Career Resources in International Health : Harvard School of Public Health’s listing of public health organizations, fellowships and volunteer opportunities
- The Faces of Public Health (Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer Inc.)
Public Health-Oriented Web Sites
- Academy Health Career Center: Organization of health services researchers, policy analysts, and practitioners, and a resource for health research and policy. The website has employment listings for health research and policy. Includes a list of funding opportunities.
- American Public Health Association (APHA): Oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world. Website offers the latest news in the field of public health, legislation and advocacy information and a career services area with employment listings.
- The Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH): National organization representing the accredited member schools of public health. Provides an excellent search engine on finding graduate programs, an overview of careers in public health, and information on employment opportunities. ASPH sponsors SOPHAS (Schools of Public Health Application Service) – the online centralized application service for accredited schools of public health at http://www.sophas.org/.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC’s mission is to “promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability”. Center is involved in research and intervention, as part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
- Council on Education for Public Health: An independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health. Includes a list of schools offering health education programs and a comprehensive listing of health policy-related organizations.
- Duke Health Policy Gateway: Part of Duke University’s Center for Health Policy, Law and Management, this website has a comprehensive listing of health policy-related organizations.
- ExploreHEALTHCareers.org: On-line health careers resource for students and advisors. This site is a non-profit, collaborative initiative involving national foundations, professional associations, health career advisors, educational institutions, and college students. Lists funding opportunities.
- GRE (Graduate Record Examination): The standardized test needed to apply to MPH programs. The GRE measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills.
- Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University: Provides links to public health and health policy organizations and associations.
- Kaiser Policy Fellowships: Fellowships and internships in health policy and related fields across the U.S.
- Massachusetts Public Health Association: Includes employment listings and extensive links to a variety of public health care organizations.
- National Institutes of Health: Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. The website lists funding and employment opportunities and links to all of the individual NIH Institutes.
- Pam Pohly’s Net Guide: A national management consulting firm with exclusive specialization in healthcare, the site offers comprehensive general health career resources.
- PublicHealth.org: Publichealth.org has identified the most prominent occupations in public health. The site assesses the major areas of employment in the field, identifies relevant specializations, and looks at employment and salary data.
- PublicHealthJobs.net: Employment listings site, sponsored by the Association of Schools of Public Health.
- Rollins School of Public Heath at Emory University: The Career Services website features an excellent list of public health agencies and organizations.
- Society for Public Health Education: Professional association for public health education.
- What is Public Health?: Features a general overview of public health, information on careers within the public health field and other helpful resources.
- World Health Organization: The World Health Organization is the United Nations specialized agency for health. The website has comprehensive information about a variety of global health issues.
Public Health Opportunities
For students interested in volunteering during the academic year, many of these programs have minimum requirements for the number of hours per week and the number of months of commitment. The sites below are only a small sample of opportunities.
- The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship: The fellowship is designed for students already enrolled in a health profession program. However, their website has extensive volunteer listings open to everyone.
- American Medical Student Association’s International Health Directory: Database of international health opportunities.
- Boston Medical Center: BMC is a large hospital in Boston’s South End and emphasizes community-based care. BMC’s mission is to provide consistently accessible health services to all is the largest safety net hospital in New England. There are a wide variety of opportunities.
- Cambridge Health Alliance: CHA is an innovative health system that provides care in Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Revere, and the surrounding Metro-North communities. It includes three hospitals (Cambridge Hospital, Somerville Hospital and Whidden Memorial Hospital), more than 20 primary care practices, the Cambridge Public Health Department, and the Network Health plan. Volunteer opportunities are available in a variety of offices, clinics and patient care areas and the minimum time commitment is one semester.
- Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): Listing of summer internship opportunities
- City of New York – City Internship Program: Participating agencies include: Administration for Children’s Services, Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Homeless Services among many others.
- City of New York - Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: The Health Research Training Program (HRTP) provides undergraduate students the opportunity to experience some of the "real life" challenges of public health, by working on current relevant public health issues under the close supervision of experienced professionals.
- Health Professions Summer Programs Listing: http://hpap.syr.edu/, from Syracuse University
- Peer Health Exchange: This organization trains college students to teach a comprehensive health curriculum in public high schools that lack health education.
- Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts: Opportunities exist in patient care areas (i.e., recovery room), counseling, public affairs, educational outreach and several new internships have been created for 2006. There are also opportunities at PPLM’s Express Center in Davis Square. All of these positions fill quickly and require some pre-planning.
- Project Health: Project Health’s Massachusetts programs are based in Dorchester and Roxbury, including the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) Pediatric Outpatient Clinic, Adolescent Clinic, Newborn Nursery, Women's Center and Madison Park Community Center. Volunteers are expected to a commit a minimum of 6 hours per week for two semesters. This includes volunteering, transportation time, weekly reflection sessions, and follow-up phone calls to clients or mentees.
- South Cove Community Health Center: New England's primary health center for Asian Americans with a special focus on the medically underserved. Includes community-based health care and programs which are accessible and linguistically and culturally competent. There are opportunities in community health, medicine, administration, family and youth programs, and finance.
- Volunteer Match: Extensive search engine of volunteer opportunities.
- Spaulding Hospital Cambridge: Spaulding is a non-profit Catholic health care organization specializing in the care of adults and elders with disabling health problems. Excellent hands-on opportunities exist for students interested in health and aging.