A Good Time in My Field

My broad field is public health.  It’s a good time to be a scholar in public health.

As universities are expanding and sort of adopting business models, more and more of them are trying to open programs that will attract paying students and more notoriety.  One of those ways is business schools; I read an article the other day about Johns Hopkins University opening a new business school with a sort of unusual MBA program.  Another way is schools of public health.

Public health is beginning to boom because of a variety of things.  The nation has turned its attention to health; since ACA passed and as we gear up to insure millions of Americans who weren’t insured before, more information and research needs to be done.  We’re more interested in prevention, since prevention can hold down costs and since preventative services are free or low-cost under the insurance plans.  We’re also more interested in policy and implementation.  We’re still trying to solve the problems of HIV and AIDS.  Obesity was recently declared a disease by the American Medical Association, but we don’t really know what causes it.  Cancer is still a specter in our lives.

The other thing is that health has long been touted as a “recession-proof” field, so more students are interested in non-clinical ways they can be involved in it.  An MPH degree is a easy turn for some of them.  MPHs have the potential to be cash cows for universities, since they are usually financed completely with loans.  Also, schools of public health can bring respectability and prestige to a university.  They also tend to attract a lot of research money, particularly from the NIH.  The SPH at my university is actually the highest income generator in terms of research grants at our medical center, surpassing the medical and dental schools (which you wouldn’t expect).

So many universities are establishing schools of public health or expanding existing programs.  Georgia State University is turning their Institute of Public Health into a full-fledged School.  NYU is expanding their Global Institute of Public Health.  Brown is transitioning their MPH program into a full-fledged school.  And I saw a job ad today from University of Nevada at Reno that they are also planning to establish a school of public health, and are hiring a flight of professors to that end.  Many undergraduate colleges are beginning to offer majors or minors in public and/or community health for their students, as they become more interested in it.  Lehigh University is hiring 3 new professors in their Health, Medicine, and Society program; Tufts University has a community health program for undergrads; and American University has a 3-year community health BS.

Yeah, what comes with new schools of public health?  NEW FACULTY.  AKA jobs for me and my colleagues!

Meaning that I’ve seen a spate of pretty cool jobs in desirable places in the last 3 years that I’ve been casually looking (obviously, I still need to write this dissertation, but I look to see what’s around).  Add to that that most public health scientists can also look for research scientist positions at a variety of universities, government agencies, think tanks, and NGOs – and our field isn’t doing too badly.


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