Protecting, maintaining, and improving the health of all Minnesotans is the vision of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), one of the most respected state bodies of its kind in the nation. The MDH does not stand alone, however, as it is built upon strong collaborations with local public health agencies, tribal governments, and a range of organizations.
The more than 1,500 employees of the MDH work throughout a number of divisions, including:
- Community and Family Health Division
- Environmental Health Division
- Health Policy Division
- Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Division
- Health Regulation Division
- Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division
- Office of Emergency Preparedness
- Office of Minority and Multicultural Health
- Office of Performance Improvement
- Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives
- Public Health Laboratory
With an annual budget of nearly $300 million, the MDH is able to accomplish major initiatives. For example, in 2008, Minnesota enacted a landmark health reform legislation that took a comprehensive approach to market transparency, care design, payment reform, consumer engagement, and public health investment. Within this legislation is the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), which works to improve health and prevent illness by decreasing the percentage of Minnesota residents who are obese or overweight or use tobacco.
Some of the largest initiatives in Minnesota currently funded through state and federal monies include:
- Chronic disease prevention and health promotion: $18.6 million
- Public health preparedness and response: $11.4 million
- Vaccines for children: $42 million
- Immunization and respiratory diseases: $9 million
Examining Public Health Jobs in Minnesota
From emergency response specialists and community health program managers to environmental scientists and public health researchers, the MDH demands a wide variety of experts and specialists from a large number of professions. Just a few of the professionals that work in Minnesota’s public health sector include:
- Environmental Analyst: Analyzes environmental samples and provides analytical results so that potentially hazardous situations are monitored and corrected in order to ensure and protect the public health and the quality of the environment
- Social Services Director: Responsible for the overall supervision and coordination of the Social Services department, including the growth of facility and community resources and providing comprehensive standards, practices, and programs that meet the needs and best interests of the facility and its residents
- Research Coordinator: Manages projects within an established grant operating budget, coordinates recruitment and data collections, and advises the principal investigator on protocol content and systems for implementation
Just a few of the programs of the MDH that reflect the wide array of professionals needed to implement public health programs in Minnesota include (many represent collaborative efforts with nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and for-profit entities):
- The Refugee Health Program (RHP) is designed to control communicable diseases that result from the arrival of new refugees; and also oversees the administration of the domestic refugee health assessment and follow-up process.
- The Sage Screening Program is a program designed to provide quality breast and cervical cancer screenings free of charge to low and moderate income Minnesota women age 40 and over who are uninsured or underinsured.
- The Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives supports all Minnesotans in raising healthier families, leading healthier lives, and building healthier communities by preventing disease before it starts.
- The Family Home Visiting Program promotes health and self-sufficiency for some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable families by offering eligible families the opportunity to receive home visits from public health nurses and trained home visitors.
Degree Programs for Public Health Careers in Minnesota
Senior-level public health positions often require an advanced level of education. The Master of Public Health (MPH) is recognized as the standard for public health practice throughout the world as it prepares students to work in a wide array of settings, and to best understand the social, economic, cultural, behavioral, and environmental factors that affect health.
The movement toward the MPH is clear when viewing recent job postings for MDH public health professionals in Minnesota:
- State Program Administrator: Requires a master’s degree in healthcare management, public administration law, or a clinical health profession
- Principal Planner: Requires a bachelor’s degree and experience in planning, implementation, and administration in a public health program or a related field; a master’s or doctoral degree in public health, public policy, public administration, or a related field is preferred
- Environmental Analyst: Requires a bachelor’s degree in a chemical, biological, or physical science field; a master’s degree in chemical, biological, or physicals sciences can count toward required experience
There are similar educational requirements for public health jobs outside of the MDH in Minnesota:
- Social Services Director, St. Raphael’s Health and Rehabilitation Center, Eveleth: Requires a bachelor’s degree in social services
- Research Coordinator, HealthPartners, St. Paul: Requires a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare research area
- Health Educator, Minneapolis: Requires a bachelor’s degree in health education, public health, nursing, or an approved related field, along with two years of experience in public health, education, counseling, or a related field
- Outreach Coordinator, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Saint Paul: Requires a bachelor’s degree in management, communications/marketing, education, social work, public health, or a related field, although a master’s degree is preferred
Resources for Jobs in Public Health
The public health professionals of the MDH may work for one of the department’s local health agencies, such as:
- Louis County Public Health and Human Services, Duluth
- Otter Tail County Public Health, Fergus Falls
- Blue Earth County Public Health, Mankato
- Olmstead County Public Health Services, Rochester
A large number of public health professionals also work outside of the MDH in non-profit, private, and academic organizations, such as:
- Community Health Charities Minnesota
- Active Minnesota, Minneapolis
- Emergency, Community, Health and Outreach, St. Paul
- Culture Care Connection, Bloomington
- Public Health Law Center, St. Paul
- Stratis Health, Bloomington