The public health community in South Carolina is incredibly vast and multifaceted, consisting of state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private hospitals and universities. The large number of public and private organizations, each with their own initiatives, creates a multifarious public health workforce made up of professionals from a variety of backgrounds.
The diversity of careers in South Carolina’s public health sphere is exemplified in the execution of various state programs. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, South Carolina received $105,274,837 in federal funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This funding was spread out to tackle a number of health issues, with a particular emphasis in the following areas:
- HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STI and TB Prevention, which received $10,585,334 in funding
- Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which received $15,918,459 in funding
- Vaccines for children, which received $55,799,476 in funding
- Public Health Preparedness and Response, which received $9,730,185 in funding
To get the most out of federal funding and the state’s public health budget, which contributed an additional $98,131,352 in FY 2013-2014, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control offers services at eight public health centers throughout the state employing public health directors to manage of staff of nurses, physical therapists, social workers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and public health educators, among an array of other professionals.
In addition to the frontline medical personnel that work directly with South Carolina residents, dedicated public health policy directors work on developing new programs, while analyzing existing programs to better determine their efficacy. The professionals whose tireless research and dedicated work supports the development and implementation of these programs include dietitians, biostatisticians, laboratory specialists, epidemiologists, and health program directors, just to name a few.
Careers within South Carolina’s Public Health Sphere
The daily routines of South Carolina’s public health professionals differ based on area of expertise and the overseeing organization’s objectives. A social worker employed by the state, for example, will have a vastly different skill set than a pharmacist working for a nonprofit organization. But because of the collaboration between departments, many public health professionals in South Carolina have skills that extend beyond their niche area of expertise. Recent job openings in the state demonstrate the diverse tasks of daily public health workers:
- Community Advocate, COPA Maternal And Child – Job duties include identifying and working with at-risk families to connect them with helpful community resources. The community advocate will identify these families by working with various community groups and organizations.
- Environmental Health Manager – These professionals are responsible for operating the agricultural water well supply and chemical feed systems, as well as wastewater treatment plants. They take samples of water, prepare and analyze documents, and develop and implement a program to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the process.
- Program Coordinator – A few responsibilities of this public health professional include:
- Organizing attempts to increase South Carolina’s residents’ access to healthy foods and beverages through retail and community venues
- Promoting walking as a healthy activity for South Carolina’s residents
- Working directly with the Division of Nutrition, Division of Physical Activity, and Division of Obesity to develop reports used to develop initiatives
Earning an MPH as a Path to a Career in Public Health
An increasingly popular credential that many organizations look for when hiring public health professionals is the Master of Public Health (MPH) because of the multidisciplinary nature of the education it provides. Students who graduate from an MPH program are educated on the full public health spectrum, making them ideal candidates for virtually any non-clinical profession related to public health.
The Council on Education for Public Health requires MPH programs to educate students in the following areas:
- Environmental Health
- Health Policy and Health Administration
- Social and behavioral sciences
The education requirements for several recent job listings (2015) within the state demonstrate how valuable an MPH degree has become:
- Health Educator – Requires a master’s degree in health promotion or a related field, such as public health, health education, or community health; or a bachelor’s degree in health education, along with additional work experience.
- Research & Planning Administrator / Division of Chronic Disease Epidemiology – Requires candidates to possess a master’s degree in epidemiology, biostatistics, public health, or related coursework in epidemiology, statistics, research methods, geographic information systems (GIS).
Examples of education requirements for jobs that don’t call for a graduate degree include:
- Nutritionist for the Department of Health & Environmental Control – Requires a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, dietetics, community nutrition or other nutrition degree; or a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science and one (1) year of related nutrition experience.
- Laboratory Technologist – Requires a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology; or a bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology with ASCP Certification
- Registered Nurse, Preventative Health – Requires a Bachelor of Science in Nursing
South Carolina’s Public Health Employers
Jobs for public health professionals in South Carolina can be found in a variety of state, nonprofit, and private organizations and companies that develop and implement public health programs and practices. The following is a list of schools, hospitals, research companies, and health departments that currently employ public health workers.
- College of Charleston
- Clemson University
- Central Midlands Council of Governments
- Medical University of South Carolina
- C. Department of Health & Environmental Control
- Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (DAODAS)
- Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (DDSN)
- Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)
- Department of Mental Health (DMH)
- SC Veterans’ Affairs (VA)
- Coastal Carolina University
- South Carolina Public Health Association
- South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health: IMPH
- Greenville Health System
- Tidelands Health
- Palmetto Health
- Fetter Health Care Network
- Home – Roper St. Francis Hospital
- Lexington Medical Center
- Piedmont HealthCare | Mooresville Medical Care
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC