Master of Public Health (MPH) programs help cultivate students' critical decision-making skills and give them the skills needed to become effective public health leaders. Public health leaders advocate for change in organizations and the environment and facilitate healthcare practices. MPH programs may contain courses that focus on leadership and cover topics such as health administration, public health law, ethics and policy.
Courses in health administration cover the leadership aspects within a health department or hospital. This can include program planning, staffing and budgeting. Public health ethics focuses on the autonomy of individuals and the dilemmas leaders can face in the wake of an outbreak or other national emergency when having to make population-wide decisions. Similarly, courses that cover public health law may focus on quarantine situations or relief efforts when an outbreak or other disaster occurs. Lastly, classes in health policy concentrate on the laws created to ensure healthier communities and workplaces—for example, non-smoking areas—and the processes involved in creating those policies.
Leaders in public health can find employment at the local, state and national level, mainly within health departments. Positions also can be found in hospitals, where public health and clinical health intersect in scenarios involving outbreak and disasters.
MPH Programs for Busy Professionals
Many universities require that incoming MPH students have prior or current experience working in a health-related field. Because of this, online public health programs are designed for individuals who want to further their education while maintaining full-time careers. All programs require a practicum—a practice experience in a public setting—following the end of coursework.
In order to ensure that a program will adequately prepare students for public health work, it is important to choose an online MPH program that is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.
Learn more about the University of South Carolina’s online MPH program.
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