Those in the field of community health usually gather information and study about specific demographics or geographical groups. Students with health-related training can look into master’s degree programs in public health or community health. The program features courses in writing reports and gathering data. This article talks about these programs and their educational requirements, coursework, career options, and job and wage outlook.
Master’s Programs in Community Health
Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree programs feature instructions in community health. Community health is a public health area that provides positive health methods and documents health-related behaviors of groups within communities. A wide array of topics is in this field. Consequently, specialization in a specific demographic or certain geographical area can be chosen by students. After they complete the program, students can seek entry- to mid-level positions.
Students usually complete these programs within about two years. Admission criteria do not usually mandate a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare subject; however, students would benefit from having some relevant background. Evening classes are available in some programs for the benefit of working students. Core coursework covers data collection, human behavior, and analysis of research results. Students are often required to complete fieldwork or an internship, along with a thesis.
As this program has such a specific focus, it is aimed at attracting students with a background in a health-related field. Admission criteria require incoming students to hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited school. Although they are not required to have a degree in a health-related subject such as biomedicine, schools encourage it strongly. Work experience in a health-related field is required by all incoming students, regardless of their educational backgrounds.
Program coursework combines theoretical and practical courses. Through the practical courses, students are trained in the daily tasks needed in community health work. Organizing of community records and data and writing of field reports are in these courses. Health practices and the concepts, principles, and psychology of human behavior are in the theoretical courses. Students can opt for specializations in areas such as women’s health, global health, and urban healthcare. Before they pass out of the program, students are required to complete a thesis.
Students need to have a fundamental grasp of biomedicine and healthcare; consequently, the specific focus of core coursework is on community and public health. After they complete core coursework, specializations can be chosen by students. Core coursework may cover subject area such as:
•Biometric and epidemiology surveys
•Health care system organization
Program graduates can choose from various career options. Continuing education in the form of medical degrees may be available to some. Program graduates may commonly seek possible career options such as:
•Public health worker for government agencies
•Public health worker for non-government agencies
•Health-related policy maker
•Evaluator and planner of health-related programs
•Health educator or specialist
Job and Wage Outlook
In 2010, about 115,700 individuals were employed as health educators in the United States; these professionals are expected to see a faster-than-average 13% job growth over the 2010 – 2020 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The growth is due to an emphasis on health education aimed at prevention of disease. In 2012, health educators brought in an average annual wage of $42,450 (BLS).