Public health is one of the fastest growing majors on campus, but one of the most frequently asked questions I receive when I say I am a public health major is: So what is public health?
According to the ‘What is Public Health’ website developed by the Association of Schools of Public Health, public health is "the science and art of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention. Public health helps to improve the health and wellbeing of people in local communities and around the globe." Sounds pretty good, right? Public health is a vast, interdisciplinary field that encompasses health prevention, health promotion, and creating healthy communities. It focuses on addressing health issues that impact populations of people rather than just the individual. Public health professionals try to find solutions to what is causing people to become sick rather than focusing on how to treat someone who is already ill or injured.
Public health can be broken down into six major categories: environmental health, community health education, health policy and administration, epidemiology, biostatistics, and global health. Each discipline within public health is similar, but the distinction can also help in narrowing your focus of study in such a broad field.
I fell in love with public health because I always knew I loved people and health, but not the hard sciences that come with being in the medical field. Through my public health major, I have been able to take classes in a variety of other majors like psychology, nutrition, sociology and political science. At the same time, many of my fellow public health peers are fulfilling their major as well as pre-med, pre-nursing, or pre-dental requirements by taking biology, chemistry, and physics courses. Public health offers many opportunities and is a great way of becoming part of the health field.