The South Dakota Department of Health and its many subsidiaries spearhead the many public health initiatives that lead to the design and implementation of health policy, provide access to medical services, and that educate the residents of South Dakota. With a state budget of $26,291,465 in fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014 and a combined federal budget of $52,600,057, the DOH employs public health professionals from an array of backgrounds to tackle the most pressing public health issues the state faces.
Through public outreach programs and other efforts, the Department of Health makes a concerted effort to provide services designed to address hundreds of specific health issues.
The state puts a particular emphasis on the following areas based on the allocation of federal funding:
CDC Funded Priorities
- Vaccines for Children, which received $9,284,479 in funding in 2014
- Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which received $7,682,784 in funding in 2014
- Public Health Preparedness and Response, which received $4,150,932 in funding in 2014
- HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STI and TB Prevention, which received $1,354,233 in funding in 2014
- Primary Health Care, which received $15,132,492 in funding in 2014
- Maternal & Child Health, which received $5,796,409 in funding in 2014
- Health Professions, which received $2,084,804 in funding in 2014
- HIV/AIDS education and awareness, which received $1,300,515 in funding in 2014
South Dakota’s diverse public health programs require the expertise of professionals from a variety of backgrounds, many of which hold a Master of Public Health (MPH). Just some of the professions in the state’s public health sector include health educators, social workers, medical assistants, epidemiologists, laboratory technicians, environmental specialists, and psychologists.
Public Health Professionals at Work in South Dakota
Public health professionals in South Dakota are employed through state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and even private sector corporations. The daily work of these professionals varies based on the initiatives of their department, as well as their individual training and background. The job descriptions shown here give a glimpse into the duties involved in a number of public health professions.
- Adult Services and Aging Specialist – Job duties include determining service eligibility for individuals who may need to leave their homes; educating the public about available services; and advocating for long-term care residents during disputes regarding their quality of care.
- Advanced Medical Support Assistant – Job duties include working with staff on various training and compliance programs, as well as resolving interstaff problems to ensure a complete focus on patients.
- Public Policy Analyst – Job duties include working with outside healthcare organizations to promote access to care and promote policy development at the state and national level; developing and implementing grassroots initiatives, particularly through events; and providing public policy training to volunteers
Putting a Master of Public Health to Work in South Dakota
Employers and schools of public health alike are putting added emphasis on the Master of Public Health (MPH). Graduates of MPH programs are often given priority consideration when applying to public health jobs in South Dakota, largely due to the broad education they receive. The MPH provides a standardized path to a career in public health for those with undergraduate degrees in non-related majors since MPH programs recognize a four-year degree in any major as meeting the undergraduate requirements for enrollment.
The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) requires that all MPH programs provide students with an understanding of the five core public health disciplines:
- Environmental Health
- Health Policy and Health Administration
- Social and behavioral sciences
2015 listings for public health jobs in South Dakota help illustrate the value of the MPH:
- Supervisory Health System Specialist – Education requirements include an undergraduate or graduate degree in one of the following major studies: Hospital Administration, Public Health Administration, or related fields such as business or public administration with course work in healthcare administration
- Senior Technical Advisor – Education requirements include an initial degree in medicine with postgraduate qualifications in public health or another related field
Beyond MPH programs, most public health workers within the state have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a major that corresponds with their field. The following job postings show the importance of education when beginning a public health career in South Dakota.
- Human Services Program Specialist – A bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, business/public administration, or another human service related field is preferred
- Street Outreach Specialist – Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a human services-related field is required
- Oncology Research Coordinator-RN – A graduate from a CCNE or NLN accredited nursing program is strongly preferred, but a graduate from an approved nursing program is acceptable. A bachelor’s degree in nursing preferred.
South Dakota’s Public Health Employers
Most professionals in South Dakota’s public health sector are employed with the state. Nurses, social workers, and community outreach specialists, for example, often find work through state-run public health centers. Additionally, many nonprofit organizations and a few private businesses in South Dakota employ the services of public health professionals. What follows are some of the many public health employers found throughout South Dakota:
- South Dakota Department of Health – DOH
- Indian Health Service (IHS)
- List of state-affiliated community health offices
- List of state-run disease intervention offices
- List of state-affiliated family planning clinics
- List of state-run HIV testing sites
- List of state-approved childhood vaccination providers
- City of Sioux Falls – Public Health
- South Dakota Public Health Association
- Sanford Health
- Volunteers of America – Dakotas
- Black Hills Works
- Avera Health: Hospitals, Clinics, Physicians and Health Care
- Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics
- Madison Community Hospital