Ohio’s coordinated public health system is made up of a diverse range of professionals with expertise in a variety of fields. Such threats include everything from environmental pollution to workplace safety hazards and epidemics. In early 2015, public health professionals – epidemiologists, entomologists, healthcare workers, lab scientists, and public information officers – responded to the first seasonal cases of West Nile Virus, which made its appearance in Muskingum and Cuyahoga Counties.
To attract the most qualified people, Ohio’s public health professionals are offered additional perks beyond the knowledge that they are serving the people in their community. Ohio’s state and municipal public health agencies support a relatively high number of jobs, indicating more opportunities for professional advancement and upward mobility. Several fields of public health also offer nationally-competitive average salaries.
The US Department of Labor reported the following for 2014:
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers – Ohio employs the fourth-highest number of these professionals in the nation
- Medical and health services managers – Ohio is home to the fourth-highest number of these professionals in the nation
- Nursing instructors at the college level – Ohio employs the fifth-highest number of these professionals in the nation
- Emergency management directors – Compared to all other non-metro areas in the nation, Southern Ohio offers the highest average salary for these professionals
- Rehabilitation counselors – Of all non-metro areas in the nation, West Northwestern Ohio employs the second-highest number of these professionals
- Health educators – The Eastern Ohio non-metro area offers the second-highest average salary for these professionals of all rural areas in the nation
Ohio’s public health programs receive funding from many sources. In 2015 the National Institutes of Health provided around $185 million to fund public health projects in the state, including:
- $36.8 million in research project grants for 102 different studies at Ohio State University in Columbus
- $6.2 million for clinical and medical work at Research Institute Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus
- $916,092 for research at Guild Associates Incorporated in Dublin, a company that specializes in air pollution reduction and power system upgrades that are more eco-friendly
Ohio’s Public Health Professionals at Work
Public health professionals work with non-profits, within government, and in the private sector to offer creative and innovative solutions to every public health challenge in the state. Some recent programs and the professionals that made them possible include:
Epidemiologists, healthcare professionals, program directors, and public health education specialists have recently been on the offensive against two diseases that have had an impact on Ohio – Ebola and measles. The Ohio measles outbreak started with 16 confirmed cases in the Knox County area. The state’s Ebola response has been stronger than guidelines recommended by the CDC, and requires anyone who has traveled to an Ebola-affected country to undergo daily health checkups and avoid public places.
Environmental scientists, respiratory healthcare professionals, fire officials, and public relations officers recently issued warnings and began an education campaign about the dangers of air pollution in Ohio. Each year when the weather becomes colder Ohioans are at a greater risk for carbon monoxide poisoning from heating sources that rely on combustion. Particulate matter from wood and coal-burning heat sources also aggravates conditions like asthma.
Public health academics, program directors, health professionals, and education specialists recently convened a town hall meeting in Cleveland to talk about ways that regular Ohio residents can improve their health. Proactive public education campaigns are often the most efficient and cost-effective means of promoting exercise and good eating habits throughout the state.
Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Ohio
Meeting the basic qualifications for many of Ohio’s public health jobs starts with earning a bachelor’s degree. However, professionals interested in advancing within their career, as well as those changing careers, will find the Master of Public Health (MPH) to be the most appropriate option.
Career changers that already hold a bachelor’s degree in any major are able to use their degree to meet undergraduate requirements when enrolling in a Master of Public Health program.
Master’s degree programs in public health are available at schools throughout Ohio, many of which offer online options for professionals who are busy with full-time careers.
The MPH is a multidisciplinary degree that covers the five core public health disciplines:
- Environmental Health
- Health Administration and Health Policy
- Social and Behavioral Sciences
All MPH programs will cover these five core public health disciplines in accordance with the requirements of the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). MPH programs with a specific concentration in one of these areas are also available.
While an MPH can be an important qualification, the range of career paths in the public health sphere necessitates specialized education in a variety of fields. The following are examples of public health jobs in Ohio and their associated education requirements (surveyed in April of 2015):
Public Health Entomologist with the Ohio Department of Health – As a specialist who works with insects and the diseases they carry, this professional will need to have a graduate degree in a field related to biological science, such as Ecology, Entomology, Microbiology, Plant Biology, or Molecular Genetics.
Environmental Manager with Republic Steel in Canton – Because this professional must be adept at ensuring Republic Steel meets all environmental laws and regulations, candidates should have at least a bachelor’s degree in Science or Engineering, as well as equivalent knowledge and experience regarding environmental work.
Healthcare Analyst and Policy Writer with Medical Mutual in Cleveland – Candidates for this position should have advanced college education in a scientific field related to the health research field. Candidates are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field like Nursing or Life Science.
Ohio’s Public Health Resources
Organizations and agencies throughout Ohio offer a wide array of public health resources. These range from governmental agencies to private sector corporations to non-profit organizations, and include everything from niche-specific agencies to broad coalitions.
- Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
- Columbus Public Health
- City of Cincinnati Health Department
- Summit County Public Health
- Public Health of Dayton and Montgomery County
- Toledo-Lucas County Health Department
- Cleveland Department of Public Health
- Ohio Department of Health (DOH)
- Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services
- The Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers
- Ohio Municipal League
- Ohio Commission on Minority Health
- Ohio Public Health Partnership
Private and Non-Profit Organizations
- Ohio AIDS Coalition
- Ohio Mental Health Counselors Association
- Mental Health America of Franklin County
- Ohio Association for Infant Mental Health
- Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association
- Ohio Counseling Association
- Autism Society of Ohio
- Ohio Environmental Health Association
- Ohio Water Environment Association
- Ohio Public Health Association
- Ohio Cancer Research Associates