The recent public health efforts in Utah, headed by the state’s Department of Health, have been largely effective. In 2013, Utah boasted impressive statewide health statistics. Among all states, Utah ranked highly in the following areas:
- Physical activity among adults (6th)
- Chlamydia rates (3rd)
- Hypertension rates (1st)
- Diabetes rates (3rd)
- Tobacco use (1st)
A healthy, safe and well-informed citizenry would not be possible without the dedicated work and collaboration of public health professionals in a variety of fields. Nurses, physicians, biostatisticians, health educators, social workers, epidemiologists and program coordinators are just some of the professionals leading Utah’s public health initiatives.
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Utah’s allocation of funding, both state and federal, gives a glimpse at the state’s top public health priorities. The state budget in fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014 was $85,514,900, while federal funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Association (HRSA) totaled $121,877,634 in FY 2014.
Among the areas of public health that received top focus in 2014 were:
- Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
- Environmental Health
- Primary Health Care
- Maternal and Child Health
- Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
- Public Health Preparedness and Response
Public Health Professionals at Work in Utah
Day in and day out, the public health workers of Utah work to improve the safety, health and wellness of the state’s citizens. But given the diversity of careers in the field, a typical day for one professional may look completely different than a typical day for another.
Job postings from 2015 reveal job descriptions for some of Utah’s public health professions:
- Rural Health Program Coordinator – Job duties include reviewing and analyzing data and report findings, making recommendations based on the data and findings, planning and coordinating large public health projects, and enforcing laws, rules, and regulations
- Health Program Specialist – Job duties include serving as an information source on rights, benefits, goals, and services to clients; analyzing and interpreting data and reports, working with federal, state, and agency professionals to ensure compliance with standards and guidelines; and providing community research
- Disaster Program Manager – Job duties include leading a team of volunteers who assist in disaster response, as well as developing disaster response and recovery programs and protocols
Getting the Right Education for a Career in Public Health
The strong health standing of Utah’s citizens means high standards are in place for the state’s public health stakeholders. Accordingly, employers look for educated professionals to carry out public health initiatives.
A degree that is increasing in popularity in Utah is the Master of Public Health. The Council on Education for Public Health requires that all MPH programs prepare students with an understanding of biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health administration, social and behavioral sciences.
MPH programs recognize undergraduate credits from a bachelor’s degree in any major, making these programs ideal for career changers looking to enter the public health sector.
Candidates with the interdisciplinary Master of Public Health are often given priority consideration when applying for jobs in Utah’s public health sector. The education requirements specified in these job postings demonstrate how valuable a master’s in public health can be for aspiring public health professionals:
- MIHP Epidemiologist – A master’s degree in public health, statistics, health education, or behavioral & social sciences is required
- EHS Manager – A bachelor’s or master’s degree in industrial safety, industrial hygiene or environmental engineering is preferred; while a bachelor or masters in public health, chemistry, biology, public health or engineering is acceptable with appropriate workplace experience
Beyond MPH degrees, employers also look for applicants with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in other relevant majors:
- Outpatient Chemical Dependency Manager – Requires a master’s degree in a mental health field from an accredited institution
- Research Assistant/Analyst, University of Utah – Education requirements include a bachelor’s degree in a social or behavioral science, liberal arts, or a field related to the area of research
- Health Administrator, Adult Detention Center – A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in health services administration or nursing (RN License) plus three years of experience in health care administration is required; while a master’s degree in nursing, health services, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or Doctorate of Medicine is preferred
Public Health Resources and Employers
Public health employers in Utah range from state organizations to nonprofits to private companies. What follows is a list of just some of Utah’s public health employers:
- Utah Department of Health
- Utah County Health Department
- Salt Lake County Health Department
- Central Utah Public Health Department
- Southwest Utah Public Health Department
- Kane County Hospital
- Beaver Valley Hospital
- Utah Public Health Association
- Moab Regional Hospital
- Intermountain Healthcare
- Alta View Hospital
- American Fork Hospital
- Orem Community Hospital
- McKay-Dee Hospital
- Salt Lake Regional Medical Center
- Home | St. Mark’s Hospital
- Mountain West Medical Center
- Davis Hospital & Medical Center
- Home | Brigham City Community Hospital