Masters Degree Programs for Public Health Careers in Indiana

Regardless of income or socioeconomic status, Indiana’s citizens are afforded access to equitable health care, vaccinations, and health education. This is thanks to the implementation of health initiatives aimed at health promotion and disease prevention.

Leading the way is the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). As of 2015, the ISDH’s top priorities are to:

  • Reduce infant mortality
  • Increase childhood immunizations
  • Reduce adult obesity
  • Reduce adult smoking
  • Make education accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing
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The Indiana Comprehensive Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan, which addresses poor nutrition, sedentary behaviors, and obesity among the citizens of Indiana, focuses on approaches based on the latest research designed to promote improved nutrition and increase physical activity.

Indiana’s state public health budget, as of fiscal year (FY) 2013-14 was $86 million, with an additional $100 million in federal funding through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Major public health programs in Indiana funded during this time included:

  • Vaccines for children: $63 million
  • Public health preparedness and response: $12 million
  • Chronic disease prevention and health promotion: $8 million
  • Maternal and child health: $28 million

 Indiana’s Public Health Professionals at Work

The programs created by Indiana’s public health professionals are multifascited, requiring well-planned and executed collaborations between a number of state, federal, and local organizations.

A glimpse at the recent efforts of the ISDH, many of which require partnerships with the private and nonprofit sectors in Indiana, reveals the sheer number of programs that are aimed at addressing the state’s top health concerns:

  • Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative: Seeks to enhance the health and quality of life for all Indiana residents by promoting good nutrition, regular physical activity, and a healthy weight through policy, lifestyle, and environment change
  • Labor of Love Campaign: A new infant mortality public awareness campaign that seeks to reduce infant death through the promotion of safe sleeping and better education
  • Indiana State Office of Rural Health: Part of the ISDH, the Office of Rural Health is aimed at enhancing the growth of public health services, funding sources, and education opportunities for Indiana’s rural residents
  • Baby and Me Tobacco Free: The ISDH’s Maternal and Child Health Division piloted eight Baby and Me Tobacco Free programs, which are aimed at helping pregnant women who smoke to quit during pregnancy

The work of public health professionals in Indiana is diverse. A short list of ISDH professionals includes:

  • Entomologists
  • Epidemiologists
  • Food scientists
  • Health planners
  • Public health administrators
  • Public health nurse surveyors
  • Nurse consultants
  • Program coordinators

Recent job postings for public health professionals in Indiana show the diversity of the public health sector and the opportunities that exist within it:

Immunization and Registry Educator: Provides assistance to the public health staff, immunization providers, and the general public in the area of immunization and vaccine-preventable diseases

Environmental Manager: Provides environmental risk analysis services, such as technical and policy advice, formal and informal commentary, and creative solution options

Epidemiologist: Serves as a technical resource for ISDH’s epidemiology and disease control initiatives, including disease outbreaks, the collection and analysis of data, study design, disease prevention, and survey methodology

Earning a Master’s in Public Health

Because of the sizable scope of public health, multidisciplinary programs at the graduate level are becoming commonplace. In particular, the Master of Public Health (MPH) is designed to prepare individuals to address any number of public health issues at the local, state, national, and international levels. MPH programs accept transfer credits from bachelor’s degree programs in any major, making these programs the ideal path for career changers looking to enter the public health sector.

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An MPH program is designed to cover all of the major disciplines within public health, according to requirements set by the Council on Education for Public Health:

  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental health sciences
  • Epidemiology
  • Health service administration
  • Social and behavioral sciences

Beyond foundational coursework, MPH programs may focus on a wide array of areas, such as: food safety, biosecurity, public health nutrition, public health physical activity, and infectious diseases, among others.

Recent postings for public health jobs in Indiana show that many employers are now requiring candidates to have the expertise that is most often associated with an advanced degree, such as an MPH:

Infectious Diseases Epidemiologist (ISDH): Requires a bachelor’s degree in a biological science, health science, chemistry, mathematics, pharmacology, social science, or a public health area, although a graduate or doctoral education in epidemiology is encouraged

Deputy State Epidemiologist (ISDH): Requires a master’s degree in public health from an accredited college; a doctoral degree in preferred

Director of Genomics and Newborn Screening (ISDH): Requires a master’s degree in genetic counseling or public health, along with experience in program coordination, development, and implementation

Senior Strategy Director (Anthem, Inc., Indianapolis): Requires a bachelor’s degree in business, public health, nursing, medicine, health care delivery, or a related field, although a master’s degree is strongly preferred

Program Manager (Cities Readiness Initiative, CDC, Indianapolis): Requires a bachelor’s degree in public health, emergency management, public safety, or a related field, along with experience in program planning, implementation and evaluation, and community organization volunteer services

Career Resources for Public Health Professionals in Indiana

One of the largest employers of public health professionals in Indiana is undoubtedly the ISDH. The programs and initiatives of the ISDH are often implemented at the county level. Some of the largest county health departments in Indiana include:

Public health careers, however, certainly exist well beyond the public health departments of Indiana. Just a few of Indiana’s private, education, and non-profit institutions and organizations where public health professionals may find a wealth of professional opportunities include:

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