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What is a public health practitioner? 

What is a public health practitioner? 

Find out about the role played by public health practitioners and how an MSc in Applied Public Health can help you succeed. 

With the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the spotlight has been very much focussed on public health in recent times. 

The pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for populations, health systems and governments worldwide in their attempts to manage what was essentially a public health emergency. 

Public health will continue to remain high on the agenda as populations and governments around the world come to terms with living with COVID-19 and learn to manage it accordingly. 

Public health practitioners will play a major role in defining and guiding what will be this ‘new normal’ for managing COVID-19 alongside other viruses within the community. They’ll also play an important role in preventing further outbreaks and pandemics. 

What is public health? 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined public health as: “the science and art of promoting health, preventing disease, and prolonging life through the organised efforts of society.”   

Public health plays a vital role in protecting populations around the world from disease and improving their physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

Public health covers a variety of areas, including: 

  • Disease prevention 

  • Nutrition 

  • Sanitation 

  • Access to adequate clean water and food 

  • Access to health services

  • Smoking, alcohol and drug use

International organisations like the WHO, as well as governments and health research organisations worldwide, play an important role in developing and guiding public health policy.

They can help with education, research and health initiatives to make sure communities have access to, among other essentials for example, adequate clean water, nutritious food and vaccines.  

What does a public health practitioner do? 

Fundamentally, public health practitioners protect the health and wellbeing of populations.  

They work to identify the causes of disease among populations, and aim to implement solutions to treat and prevent them. 

They are also responsible for helping to advocate and develop evidence-based health care policies and programmes to help improve health and wellbeing outcomes for people living within their communities.

This can involve working with governments to promote healthy behaviours, such as avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and collaborating in the development of strategies to raise public awareness of the importance of mental health. 

Public health practitioners can work on an international, national or local scale. This means they can be working to improve the health and wellbeing of people within their local community right through to populations of people located around the world.

For these reasons, public health practitioners need to have an in-depth understanding and awareness of cultural and language differences, as well as of the public health issues specific to the people they’re working to help. 

How can an MSc Applied Public Health help you succeed as a public health practitioner? 

An MSc in Applied Public Health can empower you with the confidence, specialist skills and knowledge you need to succeed as a public health practitioner. 

As an MSc Applied Public Health graduate, you’ll be ready to effectively tackle complex issues in the public health field, such as the environment, housing and education.  

With an applied public health masters, you’ll be able to:  

  • Conduct public health research and apply theoretical approaches to real-world issues 

  • Understand the key factors surrounding public health and public health inequalities, as well as how to effectively address these factors with evidence-based approaches 

  • Identify ways to appropriately assess, protect and improve a population’s health and wellbeing – from assessing health initiatives right through to engaging the media where appropriate to share information 

If you want to launch or further your career as a public health practitioner, UCLan offers an online MSc Applied Public Health that will help you master the skills you need to confidently address current and future public health challenges and empower you to make a positive difference:

Explore the course

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