How to be a Public Health Leader

Public Health Department | 4 MIN READ

public health professional

Do you ever think about why people wear seatbelts? Do you remember when people could smoke in movie theaters, restaurants, and just about anywhere? Why can’t they now? The answer to these questions is that public health professionals and leaders work every day to improve the safety, health, and wellbeing of people everywhere.

Public health is a growing and vibrant field filled with rewarding opportunities at the community, national, and global levels. As a public health professional, your work will be varied, engaging, and satisfying. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll be helping to relieve suffering and greatly improving the quality of people’s lives.

What Do Public Health Professionals do?

Public health professionals promote and protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of people and their communities. To achieve this goal, public health professionals engage in a variety of duties, such as:

  • Conducting scientific research
  • Tracking diseases
  • Assessing and monitoring a community’s health
  • Communicating with communities to inform and educate
  • Investigating causes of health hazards
  • Developing policies and laws for improved safety and health
  • Setting safety standards in work and education environments
  • Creating plans for crisis management
  • Innovating ways to improve quality of life

You may choose to work as an environmental specialist, epidemiologist, community health worker, director of a healthcare facility or health-related organization, biostatistician, or policy writer. These are just a few of the careers that are open to you as a public health professional.

Reflecting the ever-growing demand for public health professionals, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth of 28 percent in medical and health service managers, including public health leaders, through 2031, with approximately 56,000 job openings each year.

Essential Skills for a Public Health Professionals Leaders

As a public health leader, you model standards of ethical behavior and promote wellness in your community by encouraging and demonstrating healthy living.

To be effective in the role, the essential skills for public health leaders to possess include:

  • Critical thinking: Interpret information to help develop policies, laws, and educational material to address health needs in your community.
  • Strategic vision: Public health leaders develop implementation-focused policies and programs to address community health needs.
  • Data analysis: Public health leaders are able to interpret complex data from multiple sources and connect it to their strategic vision to impact their community.
  • Collaboration: Public health leaders work with team members, community members, politicians, government agencies, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Communication: Gathering and sharing information, presenting data and strategic plans, working with team members and other professionals, advocating, and educating the community all require strong communication skills.
  • Empathy: Willingness to learn about and understand diverse populations and their needs are crucial to leading a successful public health campaign.

These skills overlap. To collaborate successfully, you must be able to communicate effectively. As you master these skills, you’ll see more connections between them and understand how valuable they are.

Pursuing Expertise in Public Health Professionals Leadership

Elmhurst University recognizes the need for fresh ways of thinking about today’s complex health challenges. Our multidisciplinary online Master of Public Health (MPH) degree prepares you with the essential skills for success as a public health leader and challenges you to apply creativity to problem solving.

MPH coursework provides you with the deep knowledge and skills to lead with confidence and face challenges head on. Upon completion of the program, you possess the skills to:

  • Use systems thinking to understand the structural factors that lead to health disparities.
  • Lead organizational change to introduce innovative approaches to health promotion.
  • Use epidemiology and biostatistical data to understand the causes of and effectively prevent disease.
  • Manage public health services

Elmhurst’s online MPH degree’s course on innovation management challenges you to employ new ideas to encourage innovation in existing health organizations. You’ll also engage in a practicum, putting your skills to use in a real-life setting.

You can enroll in the online MPH degree as a part-time student, allowing you to complete the degree in two years. You will enter the program with a cohort of students who will be with you throughout the MPH, adding to the supportive environment at Elmhurst.

Stand Out as a Community Health Leader with an MPH Degree

With an MPH degree, you have the skills and knowledge to create significant and lasting benefits for countless people. As a public health professional, you help prevent disease and injuries; give children the opportunity to thrive; and improve the quality of life for people locally, nationally, and globally.

Explore the next stage of your career as a public health leader by requesting more information about Elmhurst University’s MPH degree problem below.

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Illustration by Lucie Rice
Posted June 27, 2023

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