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What is Public Health?

Q&A

Q: What is Public Health?

A: Public health is the science, art, and practice of protecting, and improving the health of the population.  Public health involves many different professions that all have one thing in common – they are focused on improving people’s health and protecting people from health risks.

Q: What are some examples of what public health professionals do?

A: They work in labs to determine what causes certain diseases and to develop vaccines to protect us from them.  They educate people how to eat more nutritious foods, protect their children from toxic substances, and avoid safety hazards.  They analyze data to better understand how infectious diseases are spread.  They manage health care clinics and nursing homes.  They work for government agencies that monitor the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink.  They study soil and food samples to uncover health hazards.  They work with firefighters, police, hospitals, and emergency specialists to develop plans and strategies to prevent and mitigate manmade and natural disasters. They develop policies that affect how we access health care services.

Q: How can the Kent State College of Public Health help me obtain a good job in one of those fields?

A: The Kent State College of Public Health has programs designed to equip individuals to work in public health professions at several levels:

The College of Public Health offers an 18-credit hour Certificate in Public Health that provides an introduction to the major public health disciplines to students and professionals interested in enhancing their career opportunities.Click here to see Certificates.  The College of Public Health also offers the only Bachelors of Science in Public Health degree in Ohio with three concentrations: Health Care Administration, Health Promotion and Education, and Environmental/Sanitation. Click here to see information about the Undergraduate Programs.  The College also offers a Masters in Public Health (MPH) and Ph.D. degrees as well. Click here to see information about the Graduate Programs.

Explore Kent State University’s College of Public Health by browsing the links on the left side of the page.

Why Public Health?

Why is Public Health important?  Most of the gains in lifespan for individuals living in the U.S. and elsewhere over the past 100 years have been due to public health programs, not improved health care.  Here’s some examples:

  • Since 1900, the average lifespan of persons in the United States has lengthened by greater than 30 years; 25 years of this gain are attributable to advances in public health (Bunker JP, Frazier HS, Mosteller F. Improving health: measuring effects of medical care. Milbank Quarterly 1994;72:225-58).

  • Since 1972, death rates for coronary heart disease have decreased 51% due in large part to public health programs (The sixth report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Arch Intern Med 1997;157:2413-46).

Public health programs are responsible for improving the quality of our water and air; they remove toxins from the environment and ensure that our food supply is kept free of contaminants; and they educate us about health risks associated with lifestyle issues such as poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and substance abuse. 

A growing area of responsibility for public health is emergency management and biopreparedness.  Public health agencies are responsible for developing plans and mobilizing resources to respond to natural disasters and disease epidemics.  They also work with law enforcement and public safety to protect us from man-made catastrophes such as terrorist attacks.

Increasingly, public health agencies are also becoming involved in developing sustainable, green technologies and working with urban planners to create community designs that increase safety and promote healthy living.

In short, public health impacts many different areas of life with the goal of improving the health of everyone. 


Multimedia

This is Public Health

What Public Health Does

Healthiest Nation

Video Sources:
  1. Association of Schools of Public Health, 2009
  2. American Public Health Association, 2009
  3. Alliance to Make US Healthiest, 2009