Public health in Nebraska is an organized effort led by the state’s Division of Public Health, a subsidiary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Employees within the division work on a number of state-initiated public health projects in collaboration with local and national nonprofit organizations. Amidst this collaboration is a wide variety of public health professionals, including social workers, nurses, epidemiologists, public health educators, biostatisticians, medical assistants, and pharmacists, just to name a few.
The Division of Public Health’s top five priorities are to:
- Become a trusted source for state health data
- Address health disparities among residents
- Devise a media and education plan
- Create a culture of wellness
- Provide budget transparency
To achieve this, the Division of Public Health creates a number of state-sponsored programs designed to address specific health issues within the state. These programs require the diverse talent of the division’s own staff, as well as the efforts of public health professionals working for non-profits, NGOs, and even those in the private sector.
The Chronic Renal Disease program, for example, is a completely state-funded program designed to help Nebraskans with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) by covering the cost of various treatments and prescription medications. This program alone requires the collaboration of state social workers, dialysis nurses, pharmacists, physicians, hospital administrators, and health inspectors. Private and nonprofit hospitals within the program must work with Nebraska’s DHHS to ensure patients are receiving proper care that meets state and federal guidelines.
Public Health Professionals at Work in Nebraska
Public health workers in Nebraska come from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise, but work towards the common goal of improving the health and safety of state residents. Given the broad scope of health problems facing the state, collaboration between a wide range of professions is commonplace. Multidisciplinary teams within Nebraska’s Division of Public Health work in support of:
- The regulation and licensure of health-related professions and occupations in the state, as well as the regulation and licensure of health care facilities and services
- The licensing of physicians and other healthcare professionals
- Ensuring the safety of the state’s drinking water
- Providing HIV counseling and testing
- Inspecting nursing homes
Needless to say, carrying out these responsibilities is a team effort that requires a tapestry of knowledge, talent, and expertise. Recent job postings demonstrate the multidisciplinary nature of public health in practice:
Behavioral Technician: Job duties include the organization of data and statistical analysis systems and serving as a backup therapist for the assessment of patients.
Therapeutic Mentor: Job duties include working with clients in residential treatment programs, documenting client behavior, dispensing medications to clients, and empowering clients to behave positively.
Emergency Response Coordinator: Job duties include developing and implementing an Emergency Response plan for five Nebraskan counties; preparing staff for potential public health emergencies and disasters; and collaborating with outside organizations and agencies.
Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Nebraska
The Master of Public Health (MPH) is a multidisciplinary degree that gives students an education that covers the full breadth of the public health sphere. 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
Several recent job postings within the state demonstrate the value – and often the necessity – of earning a master’s in public health.
Practice Transform Advisor: Preferred qualifications are a master’s degree in nursing, public health, health administration, business administration or related field.
Care Transitions Director: Requires a master’s degree in nursing, public health administration, health care administration or a related field.
NICU Family Support Specialist: Requires a master’s degree in social work, education, public health, or a related field.
The listed educational requirements for different jobs show the value of other degrees for aspiring public health workers.
Hospice Bereavement Coordinator: A bachelor of social work, master of social work or licensed mental health practitioner is preferred. A master’s degree is desired.
DHHS Statistical Analyst: Education requirements include a bachelor’s degree in statistics, mathematics, economic/social science research methods, inferential/inductive statistical analysis, or other related field of quantitative analysis.
Case Manager: A bachelor’s degree in a human services related field or graduation from an accredited school of social work or college of nursing (with RN or LPN license) is required.
Nebraska’s Public Health Employers
Given the DHHS’ diverse public health programs, the division and its subsidiaries, along with other state-sponsored programs, employ a large number of public health professionals.
- Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
- Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department
- Douglas County Health Department
- Norfolk Regional Center
- University of Nebraska Medical Center
There is a large nonprofit sector within Nebraska as well, giving aspiring public health professionals a variety of career options. Just some of the nonprofits that work within the sphere of public health include:
- Children’s Hospital & Medical Center
- Public Health Association of Nebraska
- Nebraska Public Health and Community Medicine
- Southeast Nebraska Community Action Agency
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE)
- Heartland Family Service
- Public Health Solutions
Additionally, there are several private sector organizations within the state that employ public health professionals: