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How do I get Public Health Training?

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  • Written By: KS Dunham
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 26 May 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Public health training is available in many different forms. It can be part of academic coursework that leads to a degree, such as a Masters in Public Health, or it can be part of advanced training available to already licensed health care professionals. For example, a registered nurse may take public health classes to become a credentialed public health nurse. In addition, a great deal of public health training is available through nonacademic, non-profit agencies. Much of this training is available to lay people and may include not only information about general public health principles, but also specific public health concerns.

In the United States, the most common academic public health training leads to the Masters in Public Health, or MPH, degree. This is generally considered a terminal degree and is focused on the actual practice of public health rather than teaching or research. A Master of Science in Public Health degree is commonly offered in European countries. It is designed for individuals without another specific clinical degree or license and includes more training in research methods than typically offered in a Masters in Public Health program.

Advanced public health training for health care professionals is frequently offered by non-profit research organizations or government entities. While this training doesn’t always lead to an academic degree, it often provides continuing education credits. One excellent example of this is the American Public Health Association’s national conference. Participants attending the conference’s educational sessions can earn up to 33 hours of continuing education credits in their own discipline, including nursing, medicine, and health education.

Non-academic public health training is also available, especially to lay people. The International Red Cross, for example, provides classes and courses about public health to the public as well as to Red Cross volunteers. Some of these classes might focus on specific skills, such as disaster preparedness, but they also provide an overview of the public health principles behind the specific skill instruction.

Another common way public health training is provided is through the peer educator model. In peer education, public health professionals train lay people in the target group about practices that can improve public health. The peer educators, in turn, teach classes or provide information informally to others in their peer group. This model has been widely used in teaching harm reduction concepts to groups at high risk for HIV transmission. The peer educator model has also been used in rural areas to enable clinics to reach more people with health education; Where There is No Doctor, a training manual and program created by the Hesperian Foundation, is a classic example of this.

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