Agile Work

agile work v,

to bring together people, processes, connectivity and technology in order to find the most appropriate and effective way of carrying out a particular task; used here to denote the adaptability of public health professionals in working in partnership and applying their expertise in different areas or fields

How do you start working in 

Public Health?

Where do I start?

Many people who approach me about working in public health are doing a Bachelor's degree in science, nursing, social science or health sciences or have been working as a clinician and are interested in focusing on people rather than individuals and improving population health.  The best way to see if this is the job for you is to contact someone who is working in public health and ask to speak with them or ask them if you can shadow their work for a day.   In the UK, you can do this by contacting your local public health team in your local authority or council.   You can do this by searching on the internet for your local authority and their director of public health, or looking for someone on LinkedIn.   Teams in local authority do the upstream work (i.e. health improvement, reducing health inequalities and some  health protection and healthcare).  This is a very good place to start to see some of the breadth and type of work that public health specialist teams do. 

After shadowing, you may want to do some work experience with the public health team for a week or a day or two a week over a period of time.  This is something you would approach the team about and it is subject to what the organisation can accommodate.    

Alternatively,  you could contact your local Health Education England Public Health Department for more information on working in public health.  

Do I need a Masters in Public Health? 

I get asked this question quite a lot. A Masters in Public Health (MPH or MSc in Public Health) is beneficial, desirable even but not essential. There are many managers working in public health that don't have a MPH but to further your career in public health, it is good to pursue a masters degree but it doesn't have to be public health, it can be in a related area that will benefit your career progression. It really depends upon your entry level. Some people will enter public health management and then as part of their personal development plan (PDP) or continuing professional development (CPD), they will apply to do a MPH, which may get funded by the organisation you work in. True that many applications will have MPH down under qualifications, but getting shortlisted is more than qualifications, it is demonstration of skills, application of knowledge and above all, a passion to do the job in question.

I have a degree in public health, should I apply for the specialty training programme?

You will need to gain some experience first working in public health as a manager, analyst, officer or other public health post.   The specialty training programme is training senior managers and leaders who specialize in public health, so you will need to be able to demonstrate that capability.  

Are there any useful websites I could look at?

Public Health Blogs - Public Health Jobs is a really good collection of blogs by people working in public health in the UK.  

Where are the public health jobs advertised?

Posts in public health management in the UK tend to be advertised on NHSJobs and on relevant local authority sites (for local public health teams).

Publichealthjobs  have posts advertised in a wide range of fields. See Twitter or on their website.