So you want to go to medical school but you don’t want to major in the hard sciences as an undergraduate. Or you are not particularly interested in medical school but want to make your mark in the health field. Well there is a great major for you: Public Health.
Many high school students think that they must major in the hard sciences in order to be eligible for medical school. This is not true.
As long as you complete the classes required for medical school and do well in them, you can major in English literature if you want. Indeed, as I wrote in an earlier post, more and more medical schools, especially the newly established, are looking for well-rounded students committed to a primary care practice.
Other college applicants think that if they do not go to medical school, their chances for a health-related professional career are severely limited. This is also not true.
In fact, according to the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, by the year 2020, the US “will be short more than a quarter million public health workers.” In addition, the healthcare industry is
undergoing rapid change. Greater emphasis is being placed on health promotion and disease prevention as a means to reduce the costs of care by improving the health of our populations. These changes have created a broad array of new opportunities for professionals with advanced training in public health.
If you are looking for a major with great career possibilities (and who isn’t these days?)–whether you want to be a physician, administrator, policy maker, community organizer, health educator, or nutritionist, to name a few–the Public Health major may be the option for you.
Public Health Major
The Public Health major is an interdisciplinary field of study combining the hard sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
It approaches issues related to health care from a more holistic perspective, opening up the scope of study beyond physical factors to the overall cultural, national, global, economic, environmental, geographic, epidemiological, and institutional causes of illness.
Students are often given the freedom to concentrate on specific areas such as illness and the environment, preventative programs for the elderly, or improving treatment in underprivileged communities.
And you can bet on internship, research, and important volunteer opportunities that will not only provide real-world experience, but also boost your academic profile for post-graduate study.
Below is a synopsis of Public Health majors within the University of California system as well as at top national universities.
Public Health at the University of California
Because of its popularity, UC Berkeley’s BA in public health requires a formal application due at the end of one’s sophomore year. Pay attention to the program’s prerequisites as you work through your first two years of study.
The major includes electives in: Biostatistics, Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology, Environmental health sciences, Health and Policy Management as well as Community Health & Human Development. On the program’s website, you can find a list of sample courses of study in accordance with each concentration.
While internship and leadership opportunities are available at the School of Public Health, home to the major, its efforts seem to be directed at graduate students pursuing a masters in public health (MPH). Information about internships and other off-site opportunities can be found here.