What is Public Health?

Are you interested in the medical profession? In policy making? In current events related to global and national health? In helping others?

Yes? Then, have you looked into a public health degree?

I am a health, behavior, and society major, which is one of the five specializations within the public health major. There is a public health major for each of the three divisions of learning (natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities). The five majors are environmental health, epidemiology, health, behavior and society, health policy, and bioethics.

Perks of Public Health:

1. Easily interdisciplinary
Public health is a broad and applicable major; it pairs well with a multitude of other majors. For this reason, I chose to major in public health in addition to nursing. Pre-health, pre-med, neuroscience, statistics, psychology, anthropology, psychology, dance, philosophy, sociology, and law are just a few examples of studies that overlap with public health.

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2. Top-notch graduate school preparation
The undergraduate public health program at the University of Rochester prepares its students for graduate school and real world experiences. This semester, I attended a seminar by recent awardees of the Dr. Holly Atkinson Award. Four Rochester public health graduates spoke about their personal experiences after college in the public health field. They all mentioned feeling overly prepared for public health graduate programs, as well as for their first jobs. I agree—the classes I’ve taken so far really challenge us to form well-rounded opinions and brainstorm solutions about a variety of public health issues.

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3. Current events focus
One thing I enjoy most about studying public health is how relevant it is. Public health impacts us all in tiny ways we may not even recognize! Seat belts, cafeteria options and labeling, smoking policies, every health statistic out there—all of these came out of public health. Our classes easily relate to current events happening around the world, too. I feel motivated to read the news and can apply the information I learn to my studies when I do so. Whenever friends and family members ask me what I’m learning about, I have plenty of super interesting topics to bring up. I have a better understanding of diverse countries and cultures after taking just a few public health courses.

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I hope that clarifies a bit what public health is about! Of course, this is just a bit of my personal experience. I am inspired every day to make a difference in world health, as well as my own well-being. Feel free to comment if you have any specific questions about the major!

About the author

Charlotte Pillow

I am a member of the Class of 2019. I am originally from Ridgewood, NJ. I am a student in the Dual Degree for Nursing program. I am majoring in nursing, public health, and interdisciplinary dance studies, and minoring in psychology. I am the President of the College Diabetes Network and a research assistant at the School of Nursing. For the 2017 spring semester, I am studying public health at the University of Oxford.

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