How to Get Ahead As a Public Health Professional

How to Get Ahead As a Public Health Professional

Stephanie Lukins

Updated May 31, 2022 Updated May 31

Sponsored by University of Glasgow

From a rapidly ageing population, to the anti-vaccine movement and non-communicable diseases, healthcare is facing major challenges all over the world. In an effort to tackle these pressing matters, public health professionals work to identify health risks to communities, and research community health issues in order to develop plans to tackle such matters.

Whether you’ve got an avid interest in researching and developing health policies, or are passionate about working face-to-face with the local community, a career as a public health professional can be incredibly rewarding – albeit challenging.

If you’re motivated by the prospect of giving back to society, and want to be part of the solution for improving standards of public health care on an international scale, read on to find out what you can do to get ahead. 

Make sure your communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills are tip-top

Of course these aren’t the only skills you’ll need as a public health professional, but excellent communication skills are crucial – are you able to hold a sensitive conversation with a stranger? How are you working in a team where your ability to collaborate and liaise effectively is paramount?

You should be comfortable working under pressure and be able to think strategically when faced with any problem, no matter how severe or simple it may be. 

Experience is critical

There’s a huge emphasis on the importance of interdisciplinary training in this field, which can lead to the typical catch-22 – you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. There are, of course, ways to get around this.

Shadowing in a clinical setting, whether it’s in a hospital, local authority, or voluntary organization will help develop your competencies and knowledge. During this time you’ll get to know yourself better and assess your own strengths and aspirations to decide what specialty is for you.

From undergraduate to postgraduate

A good undergraduate degree in a relevant subject will put you in good stead for the next step – a postgraduate degree.

Even if you’ve already got a foot in the public health door or your career is only just beginning, the University of Glasgow’s Online Master of Public Health (MPH) offers a flexible and innovative curriculum which allows students to study without putting their career on pause.

Glasgow is currently ranked ninth in the UK for medicine in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019, and their Online Master of Public Health is delivered through their Institute of Health and Wellbeing, which “has an emphasis on original research and psychosocial and international approaches to public health,” according to a spokesperson for the university.

They added: “Our program enjoys strong links with the NHS, its public health practitioners and other regional and national bodies, ensuring student access to some of the country's leading authorities in public health.

“On our program you’ll be taught by academics from a wide variety of organizations and disciplines including environmental protection, public health medicine, sociology and health economics.”

What’s urgent today, may be replaced by something even more urgent tomorrow. So, it’s instrumental to your learning and career progression that you make the effort to stay updated and informed. Even if it’s been a few years since your undergraduate degree, returning to study at postgraduate level can provide you with new tools and skills to advance your career.

This article was originally published in June 2019 . It was last updated in January 2020

Written by

As the sponsored content writer for and , Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics. 

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