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Public Health | The Careers Service Public Health – Oxford University Careers Service
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About this sector

Public health is a multidisciplinary field concerned with improving and protecting the health of populations. This may be a small local community or an entire country, rather than on an individual level. Protecting and improving health can be achieved through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention. Public health professionals may work on analysing the effect of genetics, lifestyle choices and environmental factors on health, in order to develop interventions to protect and improve health.

Working in public health can be a very rewarding career. By looking at the health of the whole population, you can understand and eventually influence various social, environmental, cultural, economic and political factors affecting health and well being.  While clinical medicine is vital for helping and supporting people when they fall ill, public health work provides opportunities to contribute to reducing the causes of ill health and improving people’s general well being. These opportunities include: developing systems to protect people’s health from environmental or human emergencies; helping people to improve their own health; and ensuring that our health services are the best and the most appropriate.

Types of job

Given the diversity of the organisations themselves, career opportunities are wide-ranging in this sector. There are a number of career options in research, public or government services, voluntary organisations, and non-governmental organisations.  The roles can be directly working with people, strategic, or administrative in the following key areas: improving people’s health, protecting people’s health, working with information, teaching and research, maintaining and raising standards, and in leadership, planning and management.

Some examples of roles or areas of work are: academic researcher, communicable and non-communicable disease control, communications and social marketing, community development, consultant in public health, dental public health, emergency planning, environmental health, GP in public health, health economist, health promotion/health improvement officer, health psychologist, health trainer, infection control and immunisation, information management and technology manager, lead for health intelligence function, policy lead, prescribing and medicine management, public health analyst, public health education, public health intelligence specialist, public health leadership, public health nutrition, screening and specialist community public health nursing.

Entry points

Entrants can be from a range of professional backgrounds including clinical (medicine, dentistry, nursing, professions allied to medicine) and non-clinical (a good first degree ideally in a subject relevant to public health, usually a health science or environmental degree). A Masters in Public Health can be an advantage for developing a career as a public health specialist either in the UK or overseas and the career options pathways after masters will depend partly on other related experience.

Some specialist consultant roles in public health require clinical backgrounds.  If these are of interest consult our information on Medicine as a Second Degree for more details about this career path.

Many careers in research in public health and related fields will require a doctoral degree. See our information on Academia and Higher Education  for more details on pursuing doctoral research and subsequent academic careers.

For more information on opportunities within international organisations (such as WHO or UN), NGOs and charities, see our pages on International Organisations, International Development and Charities.

 

Skills & experience

Skills needed

The skills required will very much depend on the role but may include:

  • Communication and persuasion
  • Research and critical thinking
  • Strategic thinking
  • Statistical/numerical skills
  • Multidisciplinary team work
  • Leadership

Getting experience

Some form of related work experience or volunteering experience with the client group or within your field of interest will be invaluable when applying for jobs. The Public Health Skills and Career Framework could help you to map your competencies and knowledge.

Look for advertised opportunities but also identify organisations you are interested in and find a relevant contact or approach them speculatively.

Getting a job

Most jobs are within the public sector, NHS and local governments, and are advertised. Consult our sector information for how to find jobs in the areas mentioned above. When searching for jobs (for instance on www.jobs.nhs.uk), try searching by skills or keywords to enable you to locate vacancies which are within the field of public health but do not necessarily have it in the title.

Talk to people (contacts, colleagues, tutors, supervisors) who are already working in a field within which you might want to specialise, or who may know people who are in that field. If you are doing research for a thesis then think about how this may relate to, and help you to clarify, your future plans.

Employment rights & equality

There is often confusion about whether you should be paid to do an internship or work experience. It will depend on your arrangement with the employer as well as on the status of the employer. To find out if you are entitled to be paid when undertaking work experience or an internship, visit the Government’s webpages on the National Minimum Wage.

The UK law protects you from discrimination due to your age, gender, race, religion or beliefs, disability or sexual orientation. For further information on the Equality Act and to find out where and how you are protected, as well as what you need to do if you feel you have been discriminated against, visit the Government’s webpages on discrimination.

Our resources

Books

The following books are available to read in our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

  • Trust me, I’m a health manager, Greg Sheridan, Charlotte Rastan, Dan Foulkes
  • Management Essentials for Doctors, Rory Shaw, Vino Ramachandra, Nuala Lucas, Neville Robinson
  • So You Want to be a Brain Surgeon?, Simon Eccles & Stephan Sanders (eds) – includes a section on public health medicine
External resources

 

This information was last updated on 09 August 2017.
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Recent blogs about Public Health

Get guidance during the vacation!

Blogged by Corina Lacurezeanu on June 21, 2018.

The Careers Service offers e-guidance during the vacation period, so that you can get careers advice even if you’re not in Oxford. If you have a careers advice question, send an email to guidance@careers.ox.ac.uk.

We will be running this service throughout the summer, from Monday 25 June until Thursday 27 September 2018. A Careers Adviser will normally reply to your email within two working days.

If you are still in Oxford you can also come in to have a discussion with a Careers Adviser – our normal advice appointments are available to book on CareerConnect.

If you require any further clarification of our services, or have a specific enquiry, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us: reception@careers.ox.ac.uk or telephone 01865 274646.

Internship Opportunity for PhD Students

Posted on behalf of Foundry. Blogged by Elleanor Thornton on June 19, 2018.

Three month paid internship aimed at PhD students to start ASAP!

Foundry is seeking an applicant with experience of applying deep learning principles to the fields of image and video processing. During the 3 month paid internship, the student will be paired with a mentor and be expected to collaborate with other researchers, present findings, and contribute expert knowledge to the research team.

The Foundry’s Research Team develops cutting-edge industrial-strength image processing technology, and have a proven track record commercialising intellectual property in applications for film production as well as custom applications for technology partners.

The deadline for applications is 15 July 2018. For more details and to apply go to CareerConnect .

Transition into Data Science: Masters, PhDs & Researchers

Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on June 18, 2018.

Science 2 Data Science, is a UK data science bootcamp offering five weeks of intensive, project-based training to help analytical PhDs and MScs transition to careers as Data Scientists. Their annual ‘virtual’ training will run in October 2018 and is now open for applications from qualifying students – including anyone within 12 months of completing their current research commitments.

The demand for data scientists in many industries is growing rapidly and participating in a data science bootcamps can help highly numerate post-graduates to gain experience in commercially relevant projects to help them transition smoothly from academic research into industry.

To apply:

Visit S2DS.org – the deadline is midnight BST on 13 July. There is a one-off £800 registration fee, but we believe that there are no additional costs.

More information:

Pivigo point you to a number of resources for more information:

  • See online reviews from the March 2018 cohort on SwitchUp.
  • Deeps’ Data Science Minute season – YouTube short videos by Deepak, Pivgo’s communications and marketing man. You can pose a question or suggest a theme for future videos  here.
  • Pivigo blog – this month, examining how to integrate data science into marketing.
  • Monthly alumni blog – this month’s comes from Daan Kolkman, who writes about making data science accessible to SMEs. 

London Graduate Fair

Posted on behalf of University of London. Blogged by Karan Karasinska on June 14, 2018.

The London Graduate Fair will be taking place at Senate House, London, WC1E 7HU on Wednesday 20 June, 11.00-17.00.

  • Thousands of graduate jobs
  • Meet employers face-to-face
  • Free CV surgery
  • Free talks

Entry is free, register now.

Postgraduate Study in the USA: Seminar 19 June, London

Blogged by Abby Evans on June 14, 2018.

The US-UK Educational Advisory Service will be running Postgrad USA on the evening of Tuesday 19 June – a 3-hour workshop held at the University of Notre Dame in London. The event is for UK students interested in postgraduate study in the United States, covering a number of topics, including:

When: Tuesday 19 June
Where: University of Notre Dame, London

Registration for the event is open now.

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Older posts can be found in our archive of past blogs.