Believing in Public Health
If you are reading this post as a perspective student, then I hope this helps push you in the right direction. If you are reading this as a current student, then I am sure you know how I feel. If you are reading this as a practicing public health practitioner, then you are inspiring. What am I talking about? Well, I come from a very science-y background. Being surrounded by lab scientists and MD’s, I stick out like a sore thumb as “that public health person”. When people ask me what I am going to school for, and I say my MPH, the response 90% of the time is, “So then do you want to go to med school or get your Ph.D. afterwards?” I even have had someone tell me that there is absolutely no job market for someone with just a masters. Well, as expected, I have really struggled with this. I find myself wanting to stand in the middle of campus and preach to people about WHAT public health is, WHY its awesome, and exactly how many jobs are just waiting for the right candidate in public health. For a while, this has really gotten me angry. It is difficult to have people continually doubt and demote what you are passionate about and what you are working so hard for. I too have had doubts as to whether this was the right career path. I recently had another instance where someone had some negative things to say about my chosen degree. After talking to a very wonderful, and sensible coworker about it, I have come to realize I am doing exactly what I want to and was meant to do. I need to take the negative views, and prove all of the haters wrong.
I think that is one of the main reasons we are all in public health. Of course we all want to make an impact, and want to make a difference on a large scale. To me, that should be the first and most important aspect of your career choice. But, maybe part of the job as a public health practitioner is to prove that thinking out of the box can get you a long way. It seems like “public health” is that kid in high school that everyone made fun of but was also secretly envied by the same exact people. I think this field of work is amazing and rewarding and takes special people to be a part of it. No, we all will not make $300,000 per year. No, we all may not win the Nobel Prize for finding a cure for cancer.
We are like the behind the scenes people that make the quiet, and larger impacts…
Many infectious diseases, because of the implementation of vaccines, no longer affect people in the U.S. Public health. Multiple types of cancers have seen a decrease in recent years because of an increase in screening. Public health. 27 states have completely banned indoor smoking in public places because of the efforts of lobbyists and policy makers. Public health. Water and sanitation practices in developing nations have drastically improved, providing safer water and decreasing the burden of disease. Public health.
The point of all of this rambling is that public health is everywhere. It is a field that is constantly in need and is also constantly producing success stories. Yes, I had my doubts and sometimes let those that looked down upon the field get under my skin. I have to realize that part of my job, as a future public health practitioner is to educate the non-believers and to really make them understand what public health is and why it is so important. I love this field, I love my major, and I love what the future holds for me. I guess sometimes all it takes is a few punches to the gut for you to stand up for what you believe in and be proud of what you are accomplishing (cheesy, I know).
Moral of the story: public health is where its at. It is where you will always find me.