The professional public health community in Tennessee consists of state and municipal government agencies, nonprofits, and even private sector corporations, each of which carry out independent and collaborative initiatives to ensure the health and safety of the state’s citizens. Amidst the diversity of this vast public health sphere, however, is a united desire among professionals to assist Tennessee’s residents live happier, healthier lives.
Tennessee’s Department of Health (DOH) is perhaps the largest player in the state’s public health sector, having managed a state public health budget of $285,610,100 in fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014. In FY 2014,The DOH also received $120,956,615.06 in federal funding for public health initiatives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and $156,541,772 in federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This funding is spread out over a number of programs and services that often require collaboration with outside agencies.
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Recent funding distribution indicates where Tennessee is putting its focus in the public health fight:
CDC Funding in FY 2014
- Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which received $9,043,732
- Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, which received $5,084,128
- HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STI and TB Prevention, which received $10,506,281
- Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, which received $6,536,511
- Disaster Preparedness and Response, which received $11,044,268
- Vaccines for Children, which received $70,363,950
HRSA Programs Sources in FY 2014
- Primary Health Care, which received $61,893,934
- Health Professions, which received $20,982,133
- Maternal & Child Health, which received $26,064,746
- HIV/AIDS, which received $44,852,049
Within each of these areas of focus are an array of public health professionals, each with different skill sets and areas of expertise. Public health workers in Tennessee consist of health educators, community outreach specialists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, nurses, physicians, and social workers, just to name a few. Whether working in the state, nonprofit, or private realm, the efforts of these men and women make Tennessee’s residents healthier and better informed every day.
The Important Work of Tennessee’s Public Health Professionals
Regardless of their field of expertise, public health workers in Tennessee are on a mission to make a difference in the lives of state residents. In many ways, their efforts have shown amazing results. As of 2010, the state had the lowest rate of lifetime asthma prevalence at 9.3%. The state’s current Asthma Management Initiative provides resources and outreach services to sufferers of asthma within the state. This project alone requires the work of medical professionals, program coordinators and health educators.
A glimpse at Tennessee’s public health professionals’ daily work can be found in the following job descriptions:
- Public Health Program Director – Job duties include developing public health programs, as well as performing administrative work
- Research Analyst – Job duties include coordinating research support activities, managing inventory for equipment and supplies, and coordinating space for meetings
- Wellness Program Manager – This job requires educating companies on health and wellness, with a particular focus on company-wide health management programs; additionally, the manager will serve as a source of support and guidance on health-related matters to various companies
- Compliance Manager at Community Health Care Facility – The job requires the development and implementation of programs that monitor the organization’s compliance with various federal, state, and local laws and regulation.
The Value of Obtaining a Master of Public Health in Tennessee
Graduates of Master of Public Health (MPH) programs have a broad spectrum of knowledge as it relates to public health realm, making them ideal candidates for jobs that involve working with multiple organizations across the public and private sectors. Master’s programs in public health provide an interdisciplinary education that covers the five core disciplines of public health. The Council on Education for Public Health requires that all MPH programs prepare students with an understanding of these core disciplines:
- Environmental Health
- Health Policy and Health Administration
- Social and behavioral sciences
Because MPH programs accept transfer credits from bachelor’s degree programs in virtually any major, the Master of Public Health has become the standard credential among professionals changing careers in pursuit of a career in public health.
The types of jobs suited for Masters of Public Health are diverse. The following are examples of 2015 job postings that either require or show preference to candidates with an MPH.
- Data Analyst at Population Health – Education requirements include a master’s degree in public health (MPH), epidemiology, science, social sciences, and/or statistics
- Program Manager (MPH Practicum Director) – This position requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of three years of relevant experience; candidates with a Master of Public Health or similar degree are preferred
Tennessee’s employers also value aspiring public health workers with degrees other than the MPH. A look at several recent job listings and their education requirements helps demonstrate this:
- Crisis Care Consultant – A master’s degree and/or professional license in a related field of counseling, psychology or social work preferred
- Health Educator – Onsite Health Coach – A bachelor’s or master’s degree in health education, health promotion, or a related field preferred
- Community Case Worker – Education requirements include a bachelor’s degree in a human services field from an accredited institution, or an associate’s degree in a human services-related field with added professional experience
- Environmental Scientist – This job requires graduation from an accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, physical sciences (e.g. physics, chemistry, geology, meteorology), ecology, sustainability or applied science in sustainability, life sciences (e.g. biology, microbiology, health physics or biophysics), environmental health, pre-medicine, engineering or another acceptable science
Public Health Employers in Tennessee
There are a large number of state agencies, as well as organizations across the public and private sectors that employ Tennessee’s public health professionals. A sampling of these employers can be found below:
- Department of Health
- Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- South Central Regional Health Office
- Mid Cumberland Regional Office
- Metro Public Health Department – Nashville
- Shelby County, TN – Official Website – Health Department
- Tennessee Public Health Association
- Thomas Medical Group
- Maury Regional Healthcare System
- Erlanger Health System
- Henry County Medical Center
- Regional One Health
- Vanderbilt University
- Innovative Medical Solutions
- Parkridge Medical Center
- CGS Medicare
- East Tennessee Children’s Hospital