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Public Health

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

Have you ever wondered about the field of public health? We interviewed a public health student at UMD to gain some insights into this important field.

Author: Stephanie Montes de Oca

Bachelor of Science, Public Health Science, University of Maryland College Park, 2022

Message from Stephanie: Hi there! My name is Stephanie and I’m excited to get you guys interested in Public Health. Throughout this article, I gathered up some tips for you all that can help you carve your path to becoming a successful Public Health student. Don’t feel pressured to follow these tips directly, they’re all just suggestions and many people become successful by simply doing what they like most.

What is a Public Health study field? How is it different than the field of medicine?

Public health is used to make sure that people around the world are constantly healthy. They do this through research, education, and making laws. Public health is made to work throughout any part of illness or disease but it does make sure that preventing sickness overall is most important. It also looks at the population as a whole rather than just individual people, which is what makes it different than medical care.

What different career paths does an undergrad degree in Public Health can support?

If you decide to study Public Health in college, there are many different career paths that you can take. Here is a list of a few examples:

- Epidemiologist: Investigate patterns and the reasons why people get sick and hurt so there can be less negative health outcomes.

- Biostatistician: Design experiments, questionnaires, and surveys to collect information on people and health. This can be used to do research on medicine or diseases.

- Public Health Attorney: Help lawmakers make policies, regulations, and pass laws to control public health standards.

- Environmentalists: Protect the health of people by identifying and studying factors in the environment that may negatively impact the health of many people.

- Doctor: Helps people stay or become healthier, identifies sicknesses, can treat patients that have injuries or diseases.

- Physician Assistant: Identify illnesses, can prescribe medicine, and help patients with the supervision of a doctor.

- Nurse: Educates patients on their sickness or injuries, takes care of patients, performs physical exams, and assists a doctor.

How to help middle schoolers start thinking and dreaming about their future in the Public Health field?

You can start thinking and dreaming about your future in the Public Health field by helping your community. Public Health is everywhere. By helping feed the homeless or cleaning up your local creek, you can positively contribute to your community’s health. You can also start to think about possible science classes to take for the upcoming year.

What skill sets do they need to develop?

You should start developing their communication, teamwork, cultural competency, and empathy skills. Public Health is a very interactive field and it is important to learn how to communicate with all types of people and understand the different situations people might be going through. Good study habits are also very important for good grades and getting into your dream college. I suggest being organized, getting a planner, and creating study groups with your friends.

What subjects should they be interested in studying in High School to help align them to apply for a good Public Health undergrad program?

Subjects such as Biology, Sociology, Statistics, Environmental Science, and Chemistry are good classes to take to see what type of classes you would be taking in college. Overall classes on health care and learning about the people within our society are great courses to take if interested in the Public Health field.

Starting from their middle school, what extracurricular or volunteer activities they should pick up to support their goals of getting into a good Public Health program?

Aside from volunteering, it's important to do things that you personally like because it will differentiate them from other people. However, some suggestions are mental health clubs, clubs such as Girl Up that help people in different parts of the world, environmental clubs, clubs that support minority health and education, and health clubs in general. If the type of club you’re looking for isn’t at your school, don’t be scared to start one up with some friends and the help of one of your teachers.

Are there any online resources available for middle school students to read or understand the Public Health field?

Of course! These websites range from kids in elementary school to teenagers in high school:

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