Thanks to a broad spectrum of public health programs and initiatives, Louisiana residents have better access to preventive health services, are better protected against chronic and communicable diseases, and are better prepared to handle hurricanes and other disasters, both manmade and natural, than ever before.
The Louisiana Office of Public Health and its more than 1,300 public health professionals across Louisiana have long been responsible for protecting and promoting the health of the communities of Louisiana. Their work is focused on, among other things, fighting communicable diseases, ensuring emergency readiness, and offering preventive health services.
As of fiscal year 2013-14, the Office of Public Health operated under a $72 million budget, with another $109 million in CDC federal funding and $160 in HRSA funding.
However, public health efforts in Louisiana don’t end there. The Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) was founded in 1997 to complement state and local public health agencies. The LPHI is a non-profit, multi-sector entity that works to improve population-level health outcomes and foster innovations in health systems. LPHI is funded, in part, by the Louisiana Office of Public Health, as well as a number of national and local sources, including:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Sisters of Mercy Health System of St. Louis
- Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium
- Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System
- CHRISTUS Health System
- Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans
- Baptist Community Ministries
- American Heart Association
- American Cancer Society
LPHI coordinates and manages public health programs and initiatives in health systems development and community health improvement.
Exploring Public Health Jobs in Louisiana
Career choices in public health in Louisiana are many, thanks to the wide array of LPHI programs. For example, the media specialists of the LPHI provide evaluation and media and communications services to support a number of Gulf Coast disaster recovery and community resilience projects, while epidemiologists and researchers through LPHI’s Evaluation and Research Division perform public health and health services evaluation and research.
Other professionals that use their expertise to implement LPHI’s many programs include:
- Practice Transformation Network Director: Collects, analyzes, translates, and shares information with partners and communities to support quality improvement and inform decision making; responsible for achievement project objectives and collaboration with a number of partners throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama
- Senior Health Systems Strategist: Provides the strategic leadership for the LPHI’s clinical transformation and population health management initiatives that improve quality of care, improve population health, and reduce health care costs
- Clinical Transformation Portfolio Director: Leads work with federally qualified health centers, primary care clinics, hospitals, primary care associations, and other health system partners in Louisiana
The size of the public health sector and the sheer number of public health jobs in Louisiana is best illustrated through LPHI’s diverse portfolio of programs and contracts, which include:
- Tobacco Prevention and Control: Includes the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living
- Healthy Communities: Includes Healthy New Orleans Neighborhoods initiative and the Pedestrian & Bike Infrastructure Design & Safety
- Health Systems: Includes the Crescent City Beacon Community initiative and a number of primary care and behavioral health programs
- Adolescent and School Health: Includes the School Health Connection and the 4 Real Health Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project
- HIV/AIDS, STDs, and Reproductive Health: Includes the Louisiana Community AIDS Partnership and the Positive Charge Access to Care Initiative
- Disaster Recovery and Community Resiliency: Includes community engagement and evaluation support for federally sponsored health studies
Degree Requirements for Public Health Professionals in Louisiana
Becoming a public health professional in Louisiana, whether through the Louisiana Office of Public Health, the LPHI, or one of the many non-profit, academic, or private partner businesses throughout the commonwealth, involves a strong educational framework.
Although bachelor’s degrees are still regularly recognized for careers in public health, many employers now prefer the Master of Public Health (MPH), the most widely recognized qualification for leadership in public health. Further, the MPH is a commonplace requirement for anyone aspiring to achieve high-level roles in local, state, federal, or international health organizations, research or academic institutions, and the private sector.
The following LPHI job listings, for example, provide a small sample of the trend toward the MPH in the public health sector:
- Practice Transformation Network Director: Requires a master’s degree in public health, health systems, business administration, economics, health administration, or an equivalent field
- Senior Health Systems Strategist: Requires a master’s degree in public health, health systems, business administration, economics, health administration, or an equivalent field
- Clinical Transformation Portfolio Director: Requires a master’s degree in a related field, along with experience in progressively complex roles in healthcare or health systems work
- Research and Engagement Coordinator: Requires a master’s degree in public health, public administration, public policy, or a related field
Similar requirements for public health professionals exist outside of the LPHI:
- Manager of Health Programs and Initiatives, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, New Orleans: Requires a college degree, preferably an advanced degree in human service, planning, research, community development, or a related field
- Associate Program Manager, Elmwood Medical Center, New Orleans: Requires a bachelor’s degree in engineering, business administration, finance, public health, healthcare administration, or a related field; however, a master’s degree in engineering, business administration, finance, public health, healthcare administration, or a related field is preferred
- Medicare Star Performance Manager, Baton Rouge: Requires a bachelor’s degree in health systems management, public health administration, business, or a related field
Professional Resources for Louisiana’s Public Health Specialists
Under the Louisiana Office of Public Health, public health professionals of all kinds may work out of one of a number of local public health agencies:
- Jefferson Parish Health Department
- City of New Orleans Health Department
- Caddo Parish Health Unit, Shreveport
A multitude of jobs are also found in the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI), which is headquartered in New Orleans.
Some of the public health partner agencies where public health professionals in Louisiana often work include:
- Baptist Community Ministries, New Orleans
- Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans
- Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium, New Orleans
- Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Baton Rouge