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Public Health - Medical

Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals. It is concerned with threats to the overall health of a community based on population health analysis. The population in question can be as small as a handful of people or as large as all the inhabitants of several continents (for instance, in the case of a pandemic). Public health is typically divided into epidemiology, biostatistics and health services. Environmental, social, behavioral, and occupational health are other important subfields.

The focus of public health intervention is to prevent rather than treat a disease through surveillance of cases and the promotion of healthy behaviors. In addition to these activities, in many cases treating a disease may be vital to preventing it in others, such as during an outbreak of an infectious disease. Hand washing, vaccination programs and distribution of condoms are examples of public health measures.

The goal of public health is to improve lives through the prevention and treatment of disease. The United Nations' World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Education and training:

Professional degrees are oriented towards practice in public health settings. The Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), Doctor of Public Health (Dr.PH.), Doctor of Health Science (D.H.Sc.) and the Master of Health Care Administration (M.H.A.) are examples of degrees which are geared towards people who want careers as practitioners of public health in health departments, managed care and community-based organizations, hospitals and consulting firms among others. Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degrees broadly fall into two categories, those that put more emphasis on an understanding of epidemiology and statistics as the scientific basis of public health practice and those that include a more eclectic range of methodologies. A Master of Science of Public Health (M.S.P.H.) is similar to an M.P.H. but is considered an academic degree (as opposed to a professional degree) and places more emphasis on quantitative methods and research. The same distinction can be made between the Dr.PH. and the D.H.Sc. The Dr.PH is considered a professional degree and the D.H.Sc. is an academic degree.

Academic degrees are more oriented towards those with interests in the scientific basis of public health and preventive medicine who wish to pursue careers in research, university teaching in graduate programs, policy analysis and development, and other high-level public health positions. Examples of academic degrees are the Master of Science (M.S.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Science (Sc.D.), and Doctor of Health Science (D.H.Sc.). The doctoral programs are distinct from the M.P.H. and other professional programs by the addition of advanced coursework and the nature and scope of a dissertation research project.