In the U.S., public health is a rapidly growing field with exciting new challenges and ways to overcome them. Despite the advances in medical care, the overall health of Americans has not always kept pace. In many cases, preventable chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke continue to be the leading cause of death.
The challenges don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The baby boomer generation is aging, and the increasing demand for health services comes with that. At the same time, the costs of health care continue to rise. Moreover, the U.S. population is becoming increasingly diverse, which brings new challenges in terms of language barriers and cultural competency.
Despite these challenges, public health offers many opportunities to make a difference. In particular, there is a great need for qualified public health professionals who can effectively address the challenges of today’s complex health care landscape.
If you’re interested in a career in public health, here are some of the most pressing issues in public health today and how you can address them in your career.
1. Access to care:
One of the biggest challenges in public health is ensuring that everyone has access to quality care. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 Americans do not have access to a regular doctor or health care provider. This can lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment and a higher risk of complications and death. It can be a problem for vulnerable populations such as the poor, the elderly, and minorities.
There are many ways to improve access to care, including expanding Medicaid coverage, increasing funding for community health centers, and improving transportation to health care facilities. You can also advocate for local, state, and federal policy changes to improve access to care for all Americans.
Aspiring professionals can also consider a career in public health administration focusing on policy and care access. It is a lucrative option with projected job growth of 20% from 2016 to 2026. The public health salary, according to PayScale, is also very competitive, with a median salary of $70,600 per year. However, this field requires a master’s degree in public health or a related field.
2. Mental health:
Mental health is another pressing issue in public health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States suffer from mental illnesses. It can include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and mental health disorders are a significant contributor. Mental health disorders can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. They can also lead to other problems, such as substance abuse and suicide.
Despite several initiatives to improve mental health care, access to quality mental health services remains challenging. It is especially true for vulnerable populations such as the poor and minorities.
There are many ways to improve mental health care, including expanding access to quality services, increasing funding for research, and enhancing provider training. You can also advocate for policy changes to improve access to mental health care.
3. Chronic disease prevention:
Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke are the leading cause of death in the United States. They are also a major drain on the economy, costing the U.S. an estimated $3 trillion yearly in direct and indirect costs.
Preventing chronic diseases is one of the most critical challenges in public health. Chronic diseases are often preventable through lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet, and smoking cessation.
There are many ways to prevent chronic diseases, including developing community health programs, increasing funding for research, and advocating for policy changes. You can also consider a career in public health administration focusing on chronic disease prevention.
4. Health disparities:
Health disparities refer to the differences in health outcomes between different groups. These disparities can be based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other factors.
Health disparities are a major problem in the United States. For example, African Americans have a higher risk of developing hypertension and diabetes than whites. Hispanics have a higher risk of developing obesity and chronic kidney disease.
There are many ways to reduce health disparities, including expanding access to quality care, increasing funding for research, and improving provider training. You can also advocate for policy changes to reduce health disparities.
5. Environmental health:
Environmental health is a broad field that includes everything from air pollution to lead exposure. It also includes food safety, water quality, and noise pollution.
Environmental health is a major concern because the environment can significantly impact human health. For example, air pollution has been linked to respiratory problems, heart disease, and cancer. Lead exposure can cause developmental problems in children.
Although environmental health is a complex issue, there are many ways to improve environmental health. This includes developing community education programs, increasing funding for research, and advocating for policy changes. You can also consider a career in environmental health administration.
6. Global health:
Global health is a relatively new field covering the health problems of populations worldwide. This includes both developing and developed countries.
Global health is a complex issue because it involves many different factors. These include economic development, political stability, and social inequality. Global health is also impacted by climate change, a major public health concern.
There are many ways to improve global health, including expanding access to quality care, increasing funding for research, and advocating for policy changes. You can also consider a career in global health administration.
Once you have identified your community’s major public health challenges, you can begin to develop a plan to address them. This plan might include expanding access to quality care, increasing funding for research, or advocating for policy changes. Whatever your plan entails, remember that you can make a difference in the field of public health. More importantly, you can save lives. Lastly, don’t forget to career in public health administration as it is a great way to make an impact.