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Careers of the Future: Public Health

public health

Globalisation, automation and rapidly changing needs mean the future of employment will probably look very different to now. In fact, many current careers won’t exist in the next 10 to 20 years. So, it’s critical that students ask the important question: ‘Will my chosen study path lead to strong job opportunities after graduation and beyond?’

In this series, we’re exploring a range of occupations forecast to have strong employment prospects in the future. Some careers in the tech industry are quickly emerging. Plus, there are other existing careers that will also have an important place in the employment opportunities of tomorrow.

Due to an ageing population in many Western countries and constantly evolving technology, health services is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. Today, we’re checking out the professional opportunities in the public health sector.

Why public health?

Did you know studying public health involves so much more than medicine? The science of public health aims to protect and improve the health of communities. Whether through education, data analysis, research or government policy, public health practitioners take a broad view of the medical, social and environmental factors that affect the health of certain populations.

Public health scientists examine every aspect of our lives, in an attempt to enhance overall health outcomes. Their mission involves tackling issues like alcohol consumption, car accidents, obesity and prescription drug abuse from a health perspective, and then planning and communicating the solutions that can save lives.

Graduates are in high demand

According to SEEK research, the healthcare and medical industry was among the fastest growing in Australia in 2017, with job opportunities increasing by 11.1 per cent. Public health is also a versatile and flexible field of study, so your degree could lead you to any one of a wide range of career pathways.

You could become a health informatics specialist looking at health-related data, a health and safety engineer who designs machinery used to improve health, or a health project manager working for an NGO, among many other careers – the possibilities are practically endless.

You can change the world

Public health practitioners are able to make a difference on a large scale. Their work influences the lives of millions of people around the world and can change the course of history. Preventing pandemics, challenging misconceptions about reproductive health and fighting malnutrition are just a few of the areas where public health workers have made their mark.

You’ll never be bored

Public health involves skills from disciplines as diverse as biology, business, education and engineering. To truly understand a public health challenge, you’ll need to consider it from multiple perspectives and synthesise a huge amount of information. While honing your analytical thinking skills, the ever-changing nature of the industry will keep you on your toes.

Public health is for everyone

Every single person in the world is affected in some way by the decisions made by public health scientists. Because of this, the sector needs talented graduates from diverse backgrounds to provide insight into their own communities. Whether you’ve experienced the negative consequences of a misinformed policy or benefited from life-changing research, public health is an unavoidable component of all of our lives and you could be a part of shaping it.

Career pathways

Public health is a rapidly developing field of study that offers a diverse range of pathways for students, depending on your career goals.

  • A Graduate Certificate in Public Health is an innovative course that will introduce you to the social-ecological model of health and open up the possibilities of a job in the health sector.
  • A Graduate Diploma of Public Health continues the application of a social-ecological model of health to public health education.
  • A Bachelor of Public Health (Specialisation) is a three-year course that offers general knowledge and the ability to specialise in fields such as environmental health, health promotion, nutrition and occupational health and safety.
  • A Master of Public Health prepares graduates for work in community-based and community-led health services and organisations including international agencies. You can also work on projects for government and non-government organisations relating to a number of health fields including health promotion and health administration.

Check out the full range of health courses at CQUniversity Australia here.

Meet Wendy, a senior public health lecturer at CQUniversity

With a background in nursing and a PhD, Wendy Madsen has been a part of the public health faculty at CQUniversity since its inception. She is an expert on the necessity of the public health field in our constantly changing world.

“Public health is about protecting the health of our community,” she says. “It’s about preventing disease and it’s about promoting the health and wellbeing of populations. A lot of the time, the social issues get ignored, but it’s important to understand these to understand how to make our community the best it can be.

“I think the biggest issue facing public health is that it’s invisible – most people don’t even know that it exists and it’s invisible because it does its job so well,” she says. “We turn on a tap and we expect clean water to come out, we expect our air to be clean, and we expect that we will live until we’re 85. And that’s because public health is doing its job. Most of what happens in public health happens behind the scenes and in the background, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t essential to our lives and society.”

The difference at CQUniversity, she says, is its community-led approach to health.

“The thing that underpins our curriculum is called ‘relational pedagogy’, and that’s very much about building relationships with other people through dialogue, working through differences, and coming to a place where we can move and work together,” she says.

“This is about thinking much more broadly than the narrow, clinical, individual focus that you get in a lot of traditional public health degrees – thinking about what the bigger determinants of health are and what are the factors within this community that we might be able to work around. If you’re passionate about social issues, inequality and health, then these courses are for you.”