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Is Public Health right for me?

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BuoyantTuna

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Hello! I'm a soph/junior in college (approx 3 more semesters left) and I had actually never heard of public health until last spring!


I came into college as a pre-veterinary student. I soon realized that, even though I love animals, I mostly wanted to prove that I could live up to the challenge of getting into vet school, and there are actually a lot of other students out there that are a lot more passionate about veterinary medicine than me. So, I stepped down from that pursuit and kept the biology major.


At the same time, I have been very passionate about photography for quite a few years now. I started taking art classes and am currently on my way to having a double major in Studio Art. I have been pursuing photography very hard. I dream of using my photography to raise awareness of and combat social justice issues. My school doesn't have a photojournalism program, but I am often reading that its not always the photography skill that the photojournalist brings to the table, but their other knowledge.


To add just one more interest, which I have sort of already mentioned, I am interested in non-profit, humanitarian work. I may end up with a minor in political science of the international sorts.


So last spring came around and the opportunity came up for me to go on a sort of environmental mission trip to WV. We worked with the U of WV and did door-to-door surveys investigating the effects of coal mining and mountain top removal on the community. I had an amazing time and was shocked to learn that this kind of research was considered public health. I had imagined hospitals which weren't very appealing to me. I had such a great time that I'm trying to find a way to continue working on this project.


First question: Does it sound like Public Health would be right for me? Some sort of International Development could also be an option, but I feel like Public Health might have more job opportunities as it incorporates the sciences as well.


Second question: Which program should I look into? Although I had an amazing time working on the environmental project and am passionate about saving the environment, I think I enjoyed thinking about the statistics, data, maybe even legislation part of the work rather than adding the additional field of Environmental Science to my almost education. Does Global Health sound right for me?


Third question: The only area that I have pursued outside of coursework is my photography, will that look weak on my application? I am going to try to find an internship or some sort of research to work on, but I'm just wondering what your recommendations are here. Also, am I missing any sort of coursework?
 

member 13588

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This is a dual answer for questions 1 and 2:
That is awesome you are interested in public health. However, you mentioned you wanted to "save the environment," but PH is more about the human condition, rather than the environment's. You may want to look into other fields such as Wildlife Managment, Environmental Engineering, or something with sustainability, if that is what you are about. Although some fields, such as environmental health sciences, deal with the environment's impact on human bodies, I don't believe there is too much emphasis on resource conservation/"saving environment."

But I would recommend Environmental Health Sciences since you had an experience collecting data on the effects of coal on a WV population.

Question 3:
As with most graduate and professional programs, any studies/experiences outside of the natural sciences can potentially set you apart as an applicant (good!). Nevertheless, it certainly helps to have the strong foundation in math, bio, chem, etc. You should do more research on your own as to the prereqs for public health programs, which can be found on most of the schools' websites.
 

OneDay81

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Member- your reply is accurate for the most part regarding the environment, but public health is moving toward the "One Health" approach, especially when it somes to environmental concerns. Although Environmental Health typically is focused around human health concerns, it is impossible to isolate human health from environmental and animal health. Clean water, air, and soil are necessary and beneficial to all.

OP- I suggest you look into this One Health stuff a little bit more, especially looking at the information at University of Florida, Yale, and Colorado State. Kansas State also shows a lot of promise in this area but is not accreditated as a school of PH (yet). CSU has a MPH in People, Animals, and the Environment. Other programs to consider are Global Environmental Health, such as the program Emory has. I, too, was prevet up until about 6 months ago. I may still get my DVM, but as of right now it is not high on my priority list.
 

BuoyantTuna

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This is a dual answer for questions 1 and 2:
That is awesome you are interested in public health. However, you mentioned you wanted to "save the environment," but PH is more about the human condition, rather than the environment's. You may want to look into other fields such as Wildlife Managment, Environmental Engineering, or something with sustainability, if that is what you are about. Although some fields, such as environmental health sciences, deal with the environment's impact on human bodies, I don't believe there is too much emphasis on resource conservation/"saving environment."

But I would recommend Environmental Health Sciences since you had an experience collecting data on the effects of coal on a WV population.

Question 3:
As with most graduate and professional programs, any studies/experiences outside of the natural sciences can potentially set you apart as an applicant (good!). Nevertheless, it certainly helps to have the strong foundation in math, bio, chem, etc. You should do more research on your own as to the prereqs for public health programs, which can be found on most of the schools' websites.
I think my run-on sentence confused you in the second question, haha. Sorry i wasn't more clear (I was trying to make this not the longest post in the world). I was trying to say that although I'm passionate about 'saving the environment' (and I am passionate about A LOT of things) I don't think I want to go the environmental route- but then again, I might still be persuaded.

Member- your reply is accurate for the most part regarding the environment, but public health is moving toward the "One Health" approach, especially when it somes to environmental concerns. Although Environmental Health typically is focused around human health concerns, it is impossible to isolate human health from environmental and animal health. Clean water, air, and soil are necessary and beneficial to all.

OP- I suggest you look into this One Health stuff a little bit more, especially looking at the information at University of Florida, Yale, and Colorado State. Kansas State also shows a lot of promise in this area but is not accreditated as a school of PH (yet). CSU has a MPH in People, Animals, and the Environment. Other programs to consider are Global Environmental Health, such as the program Emory has. I, too, was prevet up until about 6 months ago. I may still get my DVM, but as of right now it is not high on my priority list.

Thanks! I've never heard of One Health, I'll have to look into. That CSU program sounds interesting too.
 

holidayillness

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Yes off-course, If i was on your place I'd have got the BSN, and then sit for the NCLEX and become an RN; then I'd get the "Master of Public Health" (MPH) degree.
 

Vayu

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There is alot of qualitative public health research going on using photovoice - might be worth your while to look it up.
 
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