Is a career in public health right for me?

Is a career in public health right for me?

when I was 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do I don't remember really having any idea of even thinking about what I wanted to do when I look older I have wasn't sure exactly what I was gonna say to myself in but I knew that I wanted to go to college high school when I was in high school I had never heard of Epidemiology I had maybe barely heard of Public Health usually it's used under negative connotation I want to know what a public health nurse was I didn't actually know it was quite possible to have the job that I have now I chose prevention because I want people to have the highest quality of life possible my job is complex and its diverse my main responsibility is developing employee wellness programs for Franciscan stamp employees and also for area business customers and that means everything from consulting to program development implementation to marketing communication program evaluation outcome measurement I spend a lot of time working very very closely with my team of other health promotion consultants I'm involved in every single aspect there isn't one thing that comes out of my department that I haven't touched I coordinated program that provides medical outreach and other forms of outreach to underserved communities as a project manager I am responsible for keeping twenty balls in the air at all times most of my time in my role is spent at Gundersen Lutheran or in the La Crosse area meeting with individuals working on those administrative tasks in order for the program to operate smoothly vocation I do have the opportunity to travel I travel with the team help be the liaison for the providers and the nurses on the team and just ensured of the clinic operate smoothly that the volunteers know what they need to be doing working with the patients coming in the door and just acting as an overall coordinator for the team I apply bio statistical concepts at the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation in La Crosse one of the things we try to do as researchers is improve outcomes of people another thing we try to do is simply shed light on what's happening with certain diseases we we monitor and you we use statistics and to do the monitoring we can't come up with these kind of analyses that we do without technology it's it's essential I work with cancer studies that are geared towards lung problems how long does a person live design is a major issue how we design the study and what results we have have to be conveyed correctly to our audience one person said that I keep him honest that kind of smile at that because it it's kind of true I coordinate events for the why some are adult focus so like the got energy triathlon that we have every year I also organize many events for children as well like a hippity-hoppity Easter's Papa D a kids triathlon and a Rudolph – by getting sponsors and things like that I get to go out into community and need a lot of our community leaders from that you're able to start coordinating figuring out like your location time and place getting some good people on your committee to help plan it and then also just making sure you're reaching out and getting the word out there so people know of the event as a public health nurse there are many different things that we do we have many different programs we work through the Health Department so we can provide services to people in the community we work with children with special healthcare needs maternal child health programs we follow up with people who have been diagnosed with a communicable disease we've been doing a lot of foot clinic another service that we do quite a bit is giving children immunizations one of my top job functions is to just watch the number of reportable diseases as it goes week by week month by month year by year epidemiology is all about the study of disease and how to how to stop it from happening every day can bring something different actually but my main job is looking at disease trends causes of disease and also I do emergency preparedness a lot of my time is spent researching looking at all sorts of different studies there are a lot of good studies there are a lot of bad studies out there and part of my job is to figure out what's what in my position I you know work with the tobacco prevention and control I do child passenger safety which is the car seat education I also work with the Healthy Living collaboration which has to do with nutrition physical activity and tobacco control one of the first things I do is get my computer fired up but see kinda what's on the calendar for the day I might have to do some grant writing a lot of paperwork and reporting looking over the activities that have gone on in the previous year and and making it make sense for our funders I might also be a part of a staff meeting some days I'm in the office all day but many days I'm out multiple times we do all different kinds of things in the health department in the health II D division that's really amazing I think people don't have a clue the kinds of things that we do I always wanted to do something healthcare related but the only thing that I really knew about was health profession type of fields and it wasn't until I gone on a trip down to Ecuador with a medical agency and was working with the local population in Ecuador and it was through that experience that I realized health education can make such a huge impact I started off at UWL and I was gonna be a business major I was taking some economics classes and I just thought this really isn't for me so I took in my second semester a personal health class got turned on to the idea of health education and this idea that you could educate other people about health and so I looked at other health careers I looked at nursing I had a good friend who was transferring to another school to become a dietitian so I kind of looked at that and I realized you know patient care isn't really what I am about and so then I met with Gary Gilmore one of the community health education professors and he was talking about this field of community health education where the the community is your classroom I remember riding in the car with my dad and I was like we were just brainstorming about what to get into what to do if you like everything you like all kinds of stuff what do you do I didn't like math when I was in high school I didn't like it I didn't want I thought I never thought I'd do anything with math I think you really even know about statistics I it was statistics I don't know didn't care eventually I reasoned math would be the way to go it made the most sense and I stopped thinking about you know I'm not smart enough I don't understand this look I'm just an average guy i but what does that mean I'm average and that means I have the ability to reason I have the ability to learn and I can communicate and I just have to apply what I know it to something it's simple I knew what I wanted to do then and I thought that's what I'm gonna do then and that's what I did when I first went to college I was a voice performance major I took that path probably out of a lot of pressure from a lot of other individuals I got there didn't perform very well in my first semester of my freshman year and discovered that there was a new major called corporate exercise management and it was relating to employee worksite health promotion or employee wellness I knew instantly that's what I wanted to do and I changed majors the next day I went to school for math teaching so I was a teacher in Switzerland for three years at a boarding school I coordinated many activities for the students through this organizing and planning I really developed a lot of the skills that were needed for this job so I decided to come back to lacrosse and get a master's degree in public health which is what I'm still working on as I got more into nursing and taking the course like the nursing courses and that so much the generals I knew that I wanted to be able to go out in the community and provide services rather than in like one location like a hospital nurse when I was in college I took a class I remember it was called sociology and medicine actually which is a lot of what is the background of Epidemiology it's and that kind of got me hooked so then I looked for schools of Public Health on the internet and when I went to graduate school and epidemiology it all just clicked I enjoyed what I did I didn't have problems studying that's how I knew that that's what I loved if you're in college and you're currently undecided on your major if you're in high school I'm you're even considering working in the health field and your interest is more in education and prevention I would certainly encourage you to look at UW lacrosse they have a fabulous community health education program it has many experiences and exposure as you can through volunteering whether that would be through the Americans across American Cancer Society American Heart Association any of the local agencies that we have exposed yourself because the field of community health education is very very broad public health is important is because it impacts all of us there's so much variety and so much opportunity in this field that the career can be what you want it to be I love being a public health nurse by like stepping outside and knowing that things are safe and healthy because of Public Health I get to see lots of people on a daily basis I'm helping people stay motivated so that's great and exceptionally passionate about what I do and I wouldn't do anything differently public health for me is everywhere it's in everything it's what we do in a small way I'm helping to make our community a better place to live I get to make a difference


  1. I find this interesting and challenging. I was a surgical technologist then worked in Information Systems for year, which has paid well but really isn't what I would call fun or gives you the feeling of helping people.

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  3. Jobs in the public sector generally don't pay that well; there's usually a good benefits and retirement package though.

  4. I having been trying to find myself careerwise and am finally studying environmental epidemiology. I love what am learning and watching this video makes me feel that i made a right decision. thanks you guys for presenting the different perspectives of public health.

  5. I work in public health but came to it late in my career path. My personal prejudice (and I use that word deliberately) is that there are too many people in public health who came there straight from school. Working for a few years in the public sector with a for-profit or non-profit healthcare organization and THEN getting your MPH is a better idea.

    Note I said personal prejudice! So take my advice with a grain of salt.

  6. A friend of mine has a sister with a masters degree in public health. she has been looking for a job for a while now. what suggestions do you have that can help her get a job ?

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