Public Health Fields and Specialties

Public Health Fields and Specialties

Public health can be defined as the research and demonstration that promotes and prevents diseases, extends life and improves wellbeing. This field encompasses all public and private entities, communities, individuals as well as society at large. Public health jobs usually consist of multidisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals working together to enhance people’s quality of life and wellbeing. There are four main fields of expertise within this area: environmental health; community & global health; epidemiology & policy management.

Environmental Health

Environmental health is a field of public health that examines the adverse effects of both natural and man-made environments on human health. This could include elements such as soil, air and water in addition to biological, chemical and social elements present within it.

Environmental health specialists research, analyze, and study environmental factors that could have an adverse effect on human health. They create, promote, and enforce environmentally-related guidelines, policies, laws, and regulations with the purpose of creating healthy living environments for people. Environmental health specialists may address such topics as air pollution control; sustainable development; chemical safety concerns; climate change impacts; etc.

Community Health

They educate and facilitate services that enhance health and quality of life for the communities they serve. By engaging the public in outreach programs to increase access to healthcare and education, Community Health
collect data from this population and advocate on behalf of community health needs from a public health perspective.

Public health workers can find employment in schools, nonprofits, government departments, hospitals, schools and private companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for community health workers will grow at an impressive 17% between 2020 and 2030 – more than twice the overall average growth rate for all occupations combined.


Epidemiologists study the causes and patterns of injuries and diseases within a population or group of people to reduce the likelihood of adverse health outcomes through research, community education programs and advocacy for health policy reform.

An epidemiologist collects data through interviews, observations or surveys and then analyzes it. To discover the causes of health problems they may take blood samples or other fluid samples. Just as those employed in public health systems and institutions do, epidemiologists also report their findings to policymakers, the public, and health professionals so as to effectively manage public health initiatives.

Global Health

According to the National Institutes of Health, global health refers to “study, research, practice and policy that extends public healthcare into a global perspective for all people.” Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Programme, World Bank and UNICEF carry out this work; many professionals working on global health projects are employed either by non-profit groups or government agencies.

Health Policy

Public health policy is one of the most essential fields. This field encompasses careers such as public health researcher, policy analyst or services manager. Public health policy professionals play key roles in advocating and researching this field, acting as liaisons between government agencies and practitioners.


Rivier University offers the B.S. in Public Health degree program. This degree equips students with the skillsets and knowledge to succeed in various aspects of public health. Both degrees can be earned online in an easily-adjustable format that fits around students’ personal and work commitments.

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