What Is Public Health Research? Job and Career Prospects

Data is now king in the health-care industry. For example, Gartner Research predicts that firms worldwide will spend $4.6 trillion on IT (information technology) products and services in 2023 forpublic health research. According to Gartner, the health care business will raise its IT spending by 7.3% in 2021. This is due to an increasing number of healthcare organizations focusing on improving digital security, developing analytics solutions, optimizing health records, providing online treatment, and enhancing other digital capabilities such as cloud storage and linked medical equipment.

A similar tendency can be observed in the public health sector as physicians and other stakeholders continue to develop cutting-edge clinical techniques and treatments. It should come as no surprise that improving IT skills and infrastructure is critical for furthering public health research and delivery.

There are several career opportunities available for medical professionals who desire to engage in public health research, especially those who have acquired a graduate degree, such as an online MPH without a GRE. Prospective public health researchers may get a deeper understanding of the field as well as the knowledge, skills, and competencies required for success by completing an online MPH.

What Is Public Health Research?

The study of public health focuses on the social, genetic, and environmental variables that influence population health. This multidisciplinary research looks at population samples and many types of data, such as biological factors, biostatistics, epidemiology, and genetics. This allows researchers to identify features that impact the prevalence of population health trends such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

The ultimate goal of public health research is to help avert major public health crises and, when they do occur, to help minimize their impact while also decreasing the chance of recurrence. Researchers also aim to improve healthcare cost, accessibility, and equality.

Public Health Research Methods

Understanding the many public health research strategies available is an important first step in entering this subject.

Case-control studies, cross-sectional studies, and cause-of-death registries (registries that show if someone died from cancer, cardiovascular disease, or pneumonia, among other causes) are just a few of the methodologies utilized in public health research. Big data may also be found in medical administrative databases, which include information on prior medical visits, treatments, diagnoses, and prescriptions for patients.

In public health, the three primary types of research methodology are quantitative, qualitative, and hybrid approaches.

  • Quantitative research gathers and analyzes numerical data to get insights.
  • Non-numerical data is analyzed in qualitative research, for example, via case studies or focus groups.
  • Mixed methods research blends quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

The research technique utilized by public health experts will be determined by the kind of study being done and its aims.

Examples of Public Health Research

The earliest data collection programs aiming at improving public health were carried out by epidemiologists and biostatisticians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 1854, John Snow, a London anesthesiologist, did groundbreaking cholera research to combat a regional cholera outbreak. Many Londoners’ lives were saved as a consequence of his groundbreaking work, which gave him the title “father of epidemiology” and served as the basis for later illness-related remedies and clinical procedures.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), among other important institutes, played an important role in the area’s growth. When the now-defunct Marine Hospital Service, which preceded the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service, was created in 1887, it included the NIH. NIH scientists and researchers achieved a number of medical firsts throughout the following few decades, including the creation of medicines for mental illnesses, cancer, and arthritis. Nobel Prizes have been awarded to around 153 NIH employees and grant recipients. Several other research institutions, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have now joined the NIH.

Public health specialists gather and analyze data to better understand the factors that influence a population’s health. These may include issues like as access to medical care and diseases such as obesity or nicotine addiction.

For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic initially emerged, public health officials closely monitored the outbreak’s features to learn which factors rendered patients more likely to experience life-threatening illness or die. The CDC later revealed that the most vulnerable groups were the elderly and those suffering from cancer, diabetes, heart illness, and chronic lung disease.

Exciting Public Health Research Positions

Organizations such as the NIH and the WHO employ and support a large number of public health executives, researchers, and scientists. These individuals support major research and development programs aimed at improving public health, working in labs, libraries, clinics, and other settings to enhance progress on a variety of levels.

Medical scientists have made the most significant contributions. These individuals conduct research efforts to find innovative treatments utilizing their expertise of medicine and science. Epidemiologists, medical professionals who study sickness, are also critical to these endeavors. Furthermore, senior leaders and program managers use their managerial experience, clinical knowledge, and leadership abilities to play important roles in the creation and administration of public health research operations.

These are just a few well-known jobs that you might have with a degree in public health. Many public health jobs are available to people with an MPH.

Public health researcher

Public health specialists collect and analyze data on population health trends. Job titles include director of applied research, director of clinical research, and epidemiologist, to name a few. Researchers in this field conduct research using data analytics and survey campaigns, and the findings are utilized to improve public health policies and health education activities.

According to Payscale, a salary database, the average yearly remuneration for public health researchers in November 2022 was roughly $64,000. Epidemiologists are one of numerous roles in public health research, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 26% rise in demand between 2021 and 2031, which is far faster than the average for all occupations.

Professionals in public health

Public health experts strive to enhance health and prevent sickness by analyzing test results, executing tests on lab samples, and examining medical data. Some job titles include clinical lab scientist, public health data scientist, and lab scientist. The roles of public health scientists include assessing a population’s health issues and hazards, making decisions about them, and alerting medical professionals and public health authorities of their findings.

Medical scientists, who conduct equivalent work to public health scientists, received a median annual salary of $95,310 in 2021, according to BLS figures. According to the BLS, employment for medical scientists is predicted to grow by 17% between 2021 and 2031.

Public health educator

Public health educators teach people healthy behaviors such as quitting smoking, eating properly, and exercising. Professionals that choose this career path may also collect data on the persons or communities they serve in order to better understand current health concerns and develop strategies and plans to address them.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for health educators and community health professionals in 2021 will be $48,860. According to the BLS, overall employment of these professionals is expected to rise by 12% between 2021 and 2031.

Using a public health degree to break into the profession

How may medical professionals interested in working in public health research acquire these positions? Signing up for an online Master of Public Health (MPH) program is a great place to start. Such educational options may help aspiring public health researchers get the information and skills needed to succeed in this essential career.

Regis College provides a web-based, all-encompassing online MPH degree program that prepares students to enter the business by covering critical topics such as biostatistics, epidemiology, and public health management.

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