MPH in environmental and occupational health

BSN/MPH

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Mar 21, 2014
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    I have a Bachelors degree in nursing but I am considering getting out of nursing and getting my Masters in environmental and occupational health. Has anybody here followed this same path. Or have you heard of nurses going into this field. I have always been interested in environmental sciences and I figure I might as well be doing something that I like. Also what is a typical day like in a job with this degree. Thanks.
     

    Stories

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      I am an environmental cancer epidemiologist. I do research on air pollution and cancer and what the associations are between various exposures and outcomes. I find it a very fulfilling job and enjoy my experiences. Although I am a PhD and not just a MPH, so the type of work I would do would be a bit different (I'm leading projects and analyzing and writing manuscripts to be published as my number one task).
       
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      OneDay81

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        I just landed my first EH gig, which is a lower level position at the health department, but I'm happy as it promises to be all-encompassing (food/restaurant, water/well, septic, soil, rabies...) and will be a good starting point for gaining experience that I will need as my career progresses. I know that our day is 9-5, with some nights and weekends, and we spend the majority of our time out of the office, but other than that I can't tell you about a typical day (yet).

        I considered getting a BSN to augment my MPH, so to speak, but after working as a patient care tech and a medical assistant, I don't know that I even want to go through the clinicals. The reason that I was considering it, though, was so that I could be a EH professional addressing issues from the clinical/medical side of things. So, I would like to encourage you toward that path is you want to work in EH.

        Last summer, I took part in an EH program that is a rotation for medical students (South Texas Environmental Education and Research though UTHSCSA) , and I was very saddened when I would overhear the med students asking each other what any of what they were learning had to do with medicine and why weren't they seeing patients. It was like all of the fieldwork and everything they were learning was just going in one ear and out the other.

        As part of the program, we visited several community health organizations - governmental, religious, and other non-profit- and one thing that EH greatly lacks is community education and outreach (compared to, for example, health promotion, diabetes, heart health, programs to promote physical activity, and so on). I noted that as a big weak point in the field of EH, and that is when I considered reexamining my original goals of going into clinical healthcare. As I said, however, it just isn't for me.

        Nurses are in a great position for promoting health and educating the public, and many organizations and institutions are recognizing how that can be used in environmental health. Just conducting a web search for "nurses environmental health" will bring up dozens of hits to articles from professional organizations as well as information and coursework that is being presented by academic institutions, including Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, and UCSF.

        Back to you, though, what makes you want to move into environmental health?



        I just landed my first EH gig, which is a lower level position at the health department, but I'm happy as it promises to be all-encompassing (food/restaurant, water/well, septic, soil, rabies...) and will be a good starting point for gaining experience that will let my career progress.
         
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        BSN/MPH

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        Mar 21, 2014
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        1. Other Health Professions Student
          Well Ive been a nurse for ten years and im just burnt out of the long 12 hour shifts and being short staffed all the time. I been thinking for a while now about a career change so ive been taking math and chemistry classes and i really enjoyed them. I like the healthcare field and i want to eventually be able to use my experience in nursing to hopefully help me later on in a career in public health. I have always been interested in the environment and in promoting health so i figured why not try to combine the two areas.
          So how is your new job going so far.
           

          OneDay81

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            Sorry it's taken me a while to get back to you. My job is very busy and time spent inn the office is minimal. The hours are good though we do have some nights and weekends. Hours are certainly better than most medical positions, though. We are quite short staffed and behind schedule, but I don't mind because I like staying busy.
            Interestingly, the nursing students at the local university tag along with us for one day a semester one on one. I believe they also rotate with the other health department departments, which is great.

            My days are spent doing mainly food/restaurant inspections, as well as inspecting pools, potential foster homes, and assisted living facilities. I've also been able to help with some rabies cases.

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