For any growing society, community wellness and health matter immensely. If the population is in good shape, it reduces the burden on the healthcare sector and prevents outbreaks of avoidable diseases. But people need help in maintaining and managing their lifestyles. The lack of awareness, poor infrastructure, and poor hygiene standards are reasons the population struggles to remain healthy.
This is where public health professionals come into play. Your role is pivotal in keeping the community in shape, studying infectious diseases, and researching methods that guarantee the safety of the people. Since your job is extensive, it’s essential to understand how you’re making a difference in community welfare. The details of which are as follows:
What is public health?
Public health is one of the sectors in the healthcare industry that is involved with promoting and protecting the welfare of various communities. Hence, your job requires you to be highly educated and hold at least a master’s degree to perform your role perfectly. An advanced degree also allows you to embrace more senior positions, secure a good income, and polish yourself as a leader. While getting a bachelor’s in public health can help you start your career, only a master’s degree promotes you to a higher level giving you better job opportunities.
So if you have been struggling with the thought, is an MPH degree worth it? This degree most certainly is, as it allows you to look after the population in a much more informed manner. Your job is to narrow down the sources of disease outbreaks, figure out ways to mitigate them and develop plans to prevent future health complications.
On the surface level, this may sound easy, but it is not. Educating communities is an elaborate process. You will need to research, dialogue, and address any scepticism the population may harbour about modern medication. At the same time, you need to design strategies to deal with natural disasters, figure out ways to help the disabled community and work with hospitals in controlling epidemics.
What do you do as a public health worker?
As a public health professional, you need to prevent diseases and injuries from getting worse. Contagious diseases and infections need to get controlled. This stops pathogens from mutating and spreading globally, thus saving the medical industry from getting saturated with numerous cases. Your responsibilities also include managing and looking after the population’s mental health and helping them get the help they need. Here’s a deeper look into your job:
- Create wide-scale awareness. One of the reasons why communities fail to look after themselves is a lack of awareness. They don’t know what lifestyle choices they are making that are contributing to their declining health. For example, most people within the community may have the habit of discarding antibiotics before completing the course, making bacteria resistant to the same medicine. As a result, when the infection resurfaces, the same antibiotic may become redundant in providing treatment. Therefore, you need to identify where the community lacks understanding and discuss those issues with them. You can arrange education sessions in community centres, schools, workplaces, and via online videos and blogs. Specific topics that need visitation include hygiene, cleanliness, practising a healthy diet, the importance of first aid, and developing an immunization schedule. If you have the resources to create multilingual pamphlets, invest in those too.
- Design a system to deliver healthcare. Rural areas and underdeveloped neighbourhoods have a hard time accessing hospitals and clinics. This affects their health, and they cannot manage several chronic and acute illnesses, causing a massive reduction in their quality of life. Likewise, pregnant women need intensive care during the early stages of fetal development. But lack of consultation and access to a medical caregiver puts them in a delicate position. Consequently, these expectant mothers may unknowingly neglect their baby’s health, be unable to sustain the pregnancy, and have a hard time during delivery. Hence, you must find ways to set up retail clinics and provide the community access to primary healthcare. You may need to collaborate with NGOs and nurse practitioners to set up clinics. This could include working with experts to provide affordable X-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans, helping the population get basic scans like blood tests for diagnostic purposes. You can lend a hand in administering vaccines and screening tests to identify any potential risks for the community. Lastly, work with nurse practitioners to provide maternal care and record what problems most mothers limited to a specific community face to find solutions to help them.
- Find solutions for severe illnesses. You will need to investigate the cause and effect of why disease occurs and why curing the illness takes too long. Research requires tracking the source, monitoring the health of the infected patients, studying their immunity, and carrying out trial runs to narrow down the cure. These can be chronic health conditions like diabetes, obesity, and arthritis or possible infectious diseases because of poor infrastructure, extensive pollution, and drug-resistant pathogens. Identification allows you to mitigate the risk before it happens and work on healing the population before an outbreak occurs. If you act timely, you can prevent numerous health conditions from getting out of control. When you have your data, you will need to extrapolate the information, arrange it into a report, and consult medical caregivers to discuss the results.
- Provide counselling. Mental health problems need as much attention as physical ailments. If a community is not doing well mentally, it will trickle down to their physical being, making them sick and prone to more diseases. When you’re mentally unstable, you can become reckless about your well-being. It’s not uncommon for those with mental health issues to turn to substance abuse to find a solution for their troubles. In all these cases, you need to intervene, guide these individuals to rehab, help them get treated for health problems like eating disorders, and connect them to reliable psychiatrists if they need prescription medication. You’re also in an excellent position to counsel, provide group support and carry out therapeutic sessions with clients who need it.
Public health is crucial for community wellness. Your role is imperative in helping the population improve and become more aware of looking after themselves. This multifaceted task involves educating the masses, providing them with resources to study, and making information accessible to the mainstream population.
Likewise, your role is integral in connecting the community to hospitals, setting up clinics, and providing them with the necessary medication. Lastly, as a public health professional, you must research, investigate and offer practical solutions to common healthcare problems. If the community struggles with mental health ailments, timely intervention can help save lives and prevent these conditions from worsening.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.