As part of Montana’s larger consortium of public health professionals and organizations, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) along with a large number of nonprofit organizations, take a community-based approach to public health.
In the most recent Department of Public Health and Human Services’ Mission Statement, the Public Health and Safety Division (PHSD) published its 2015 goals and objectives, demonstrating the wide range of battles being fought within the sphere of public health:
- Prevent and control communicable disease
- Reduce the burden of chronic disease
- Provide accurate and timely laboratory testing and results
- Provide programs and services to improve the health of women, children and families
- Prepare the public health system to respond to public health events and emergencies
- Improve the health of Montanans to the highest possible level
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To accomplish these goals, the state requires the services of professionals from an array of professional backgrounds armed with the kind of specialized knowledge that can only be gained through a Master of Public Health (MPH) program.
Public health workers in Montana include nurses, health inspectors, program specialists, health coordinators, social workers, physicians, biostatisticians, and public service coordinators, just to name a few. Working together, these men and women make Montana a state-wide support network dedicated to the health of all its citizens.
The Professionals Working to Improve Community Health in Montana
Public health workers in Montana come from a variety of backgrounds and skillsets, but they remain united under the common goal of serving the state’s public health interests.
A few recent job postings demonstrate the diversity of public health careers in Montana:
Healthcare Program Specialist: Job duties include overseeing the State Registered Apprenticeship and Training Program, which requires the specialist to work in multiple communities across Montana, as well as collaborating with businesses and workforce system partners.
Child Protection Specialist: Job duties include assessing and documenting cases of child maltreatment according to state and federal statutes and agency policy; evaluating the safety of foster homes; and working with families to establish a permanency plan when needed and required.
Nurse Practitioner (Mental Health), Montana State Hospital: Nurses will treat and prescribe care to patients received upon referral from psychiatrists from the hospital’s other treatment units, as well as make clinical decisions regarding inpatient matters.
Mental Health Counselor: Job duties include providing direct care to patients through mental health screenings/assessments, crisis intervention, and suicide risk assessments; conducting group therapy sessions; and developing treatment plans for mental health patients.
Advanced Education for a Career in Public Health
Those looking to prepare for a career in public health, or otherwise looking to advance in their career, very often obtain a Master of Public Health (MPH). The MPH is increasingly being recognized as the new standard in graduate-level preparation for public health professionals. In fact, The Council on Education for Public Health requires all MPH programs to help students develop core competencies in:
- Environmental Health Sciences
- Health Service Administration
- Social and Behavioral Sciences
The educational requirements listed for several recent public health job postings in Montana illustrates the growing value of an MPH and other master’s degrees for aspiring public health professionals.
Vice President, Strategy & Business Development – St. Vincent Healthcare: Requires job candidates to possess a bachelor’s degree, although a master’s degree in business administration, hospital, health or public administration is given strong preference.
Executive Director, Western Montana Mental Health Center: Requires a master’s degree in social work, psychology or a related field.
Epidemiologist: Requires a master’s in epidemiology, statistics, or a closely related major.
Degree requirements for different job postings show the diversity of education that leads to careers in Montana’s public health field.
Client Service Coordinator: Requires a bachelor’s degree in business, human services with a concentration that is directly related to public assistance, or a closely-related field of study.
Treatment Program Manager: Requires a bachelor’s degree in health science, health education, communication, public relations, behavioral or social science or a related area.
Montana’s Public Health Employers
For men and women looking to make a difference through a career in public health, Montana may be the perfect state to find employment. Professionals in the field may find employment opportunities through both state and nonprofit organizations, as well as in the private sector. Hospitals, health centers, and county health departments are just a few of the places public health workers go to work every day.
Several state-run public health organizations include:
- Department of Public Health and Human Services
- Missoula City County Health Department
- Ravalli County Public Health
- Dawson County Health Public Health
- Teton County Health Department
The DPHHS has twelve divisions, each of which employs public health workers based on their knowledge and experience. These divisions include:
- Addictive & Mental Disorders
- Business & Financial Services
- Child & Family Services
- Child Support Enforcement
- Developmental Services
- Disability Employment and Transitions
- Health Resources
- Human & Community Services
- Public Health & Safety
- Quality Assurance
- Senior & Long Term Care
- Technology Services
Just a few of the nonprofit organizations that operate within Montana’s public health sphere include:
- Montana Public Health Association
- Western Montana Mental Health Center
- Kalispell Regional Medical Center
- Billings Clinic
- Northern Montana Health Care
- SCL Health