A physician specialising in public health is concerned with the health of not only individuals but whole communities. They will do their best to ensure the health and safety of a community is guarded from any medical concerns and emergencies. Such specialists would work as part of a close knit support group to make sure patients are offered unique medical assistance. They would be concerned with supporting main care trusts, upholding societal health and laying down a foundation of control should there be a pandemic, as demonstrated with the current swine flu epidemic.

This is a professional segment of medicine that is not limited to medical professionals. Individuals with an extensive knowledge of disciplines such as psychology and pharmacology can enter this profession, though there would be the need to acquire some medical knowledge through a master’s degree or other relevant qualification. Physicians of this speciality would need to be on call at times, particularly if there is a disease epidemic. The current swine flu epidemic makes such a speciality all the more important.

Work activities

Typical work activities a public health physician would need to carry out include the following:

  • Work to keep any epidemic under control.
  • Ensure that the needs of the community are met.
  • Work with a range of medical specialists to ensure a strong support group is provided for communities.
  • Work in hospitals, care centres and generally in the community.
  • Make sure communities are made aware of any medical concerns and that they understand any precautions they should be taking.
  • Work to improve the health of a community.
  • Cater for community needs rather than merely the individual.
  • You may choose to conduct research.
  • Work with fact based medicine.
  • Continue to study and research in order to learn of any advances in medicine.
  • Be on call for any community medical emergencies, such as a pandemic.

Essential skills

  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Good knowledge of medicine and other disciplines such as psychology.
  • Able to work as part of a team and as an individual.
  • Understanding of how communities work.
  • Able to work with a wide range of patients.
  • Ability to not only think about individual needs, but whole communities.
  • Leadership qualities.
  • Able to perform administrative duties.
  • Real desire to help improve the general health of a community.