Make a Difference with a Degree in Public Health

The pandemic that started in 2020 will leave a lasting mark on us — there is no doubt about that. The individuals who worked in health care during this time (the physicians, nurses, first responders, and those in the broader public health arena) will carry an extra burden. Their professional calling required them to battle COVID-19’s effects at work, and they had to face pandemic-related concerns in their personal lives, too.

If you were one of the people experiencing the pandemic more from a personal side versus professional, you still might have felt frustration about how things unfolded. If you found yourself thinking, “there has to be a better way,” you have the opportunity — maybe even the obligation — to do something about it. We all do.

Could you imagine yourself working in health care someday, striving to make a meaningful difference in your community? If so, you could study to become a doctor or nurse, but that takes time and money, and the total commitment is weighty.

There is another way to make a difference in a health-related field, and that is to work in public health.  And a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from the University of Cincinnati Online can help you make that happen!

What is “Public Health”?

The American Public Health Association (APHA), an organization whose roots go back almost 150 years, describes public health in this way:

“Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. While a doctor treats people who are sick, those of us working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. We also promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors.”

The APHA says that people working in public health perform a variety of roles. They might conduct scientific research or educate people about the risks of alcohol and tobacco. They might vaccinate children and adults to prevent the spread of disease, be a public policymaker or work as a community planner or volunteer.

What’s It Like to Work in Public Health?

Throughout the pandemic, the national media primarily focused its spotlight on physicians and nurses working the challenging front lines. Thousands of public health professionals worked the crisis, too — just behind the scenes, applying their education, experience and passion to the worse health crisis in our lifetime.

Public health work can be executed in many environments and is not restricted to a hospital or physician’s office. The work is done at corporations and government offices and inside schools and nonprofit organizations. A public health expert might focus their efforts on children, specialize in adults or take a broader approach.

Online Degree in Public Health

If working in public health is something that has been on your mind (and maybe on your heart, too), you will want to ground yourself in the proper education and training.

University of Cincinnati Online (UCO) offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Public Health degree that allows you to study full- or part-time at a pace that works for you. The program is 100% online, and there’s no campus requirement. This is a great option if you’re working full-time and need to take classes when it is convenient for you — on the evenings or weekends, on your lunch break or whenever it works best for you.


Differences Between Health Providers and Public Health

The connection between health care providers and public health has been compared to trains on parallel tracks, with windows facing opposite directions but looking out on the same landscape.

Donna Shalala, the former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, is said to have described it like this:

“Those on the medical train see the individual trees — the subtle differences in size, color, age and health. Those aboard the public health train see the forest — populations of similar trees, growing together and weathering the same storms.”*

In our society, it is not an either/or choice. We need both types of professionals and their “different” views. We also need people to help bridge the gap between the two groups who can play a critical role that enables better communication, collaboration, and health data-sharing. This partnership helps people on the receiving end of health care and information can reap the benefits from both focus areas’ expertise.

Work on the “Business Side” of Health Care

One of the aspects of working in public health that appeals to so many is that you can take what you already know and are passionate about and channel those into your public health career.

Here are three scenarios:

  • If you have a head for numbers, you could apply those mathematic and statistical skills to your role as a biostatistician by collecting, organizing, and explaining public health-related data.
  • Are you passionate about our environment and growing more concerned about Mother Earth’s health? You could help enforce hazardous and infectious waste regulations and bring attention to emerging health hazards in your environmental health specialist role.
  • As a community health educator with a BS in Public Health, you could champion the basic health and medical care rights of an underserved community or population, bringing its citizens needed attention and life-saving resources.
Make Your First Move into Public Health

Working in public health is a fast-paced, ever-changing environment where you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Earning your bachelor’s degree in public health gives you the foundational knowledge you need to find career success and satisfaction.

University of Cincinnati Online’s BS in Public Health degree is designed for today’s students who need their education to work well with their work and personal lives. When you choose UC Online, you can be confident in your decision. Our university is grounded in 20 years of experience in online education and a reputation we work hard to maintain — the best online degree programs in the country.

If you are ready to take the next step, we are here to help you navigate your public health career path. Reach out today and talk one-on-one with an advisor. They’re here Monday–Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern.

We look forward to talking with you and hearing about your interest in public health!


* “Building Bridges between Health Care and Public Health: A Critical Piece of the Health Reform Infrastructure,” by Nicole Lurie, M.D., M.S.P.H and Allen Fremont, M.D., Ph.D.

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