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Public Health Physician

Promote health and wellness throughout entire communities.

What does a Public Health Physician do?

A Public Health Physician is a Doctor who promotes health and wellness within entire communities of people, as opposed to individual patients within a private practice. You see, health care isn’t just personal; it’s also public. Because you have a cold, your grandmother had breast cancer, and your best friend’s dad has diabetes, you probably think that individuals get sick. You’re only partially right, however.

People don’t get sick in isolation. Rather, they develop conditions and contract diseases within communities. That’s the premise behind the concept of “public health.” And when you’re a Public Health Physician, it’s the premise to which you’ve dedicated your career.

You spend that career as an employee of government agencies, medical facilities, clinics, community organizations, or public health centers. The communities you serve as a Public Health Physician might be geographic — a city or a neighborhood, for instance — or demographic: low-income families, for example, or racial, gender, and sexual minorities. Always, however, your focus is on “populations” versus “persons.”

Like most Doctors, you examine and advise patients, make diagnoses, prescribe medications, and administer treatments. At the same time, however, you study the spread of disease, and conduct medical interventions to stop it. If HIV is on the rise, for instance, you may organize an HIV awareness campaign that includes education and testing. If obesity is a problem, you might create a program that promotes exercise and nutrition.

Whatever it is, your job is to control and prevent the spread of disease by assessing communities’ health needs, then designing programs and delivering services that address them. Simply put, it’s health care meets health policy, and you’re the bridge between them.