Wyoming’s public health professionals must be versatile and approach challenges with both tried-and-true as well as creative methods. Environmental health, disease prevention, and emergency contingent planning are just some of the issues within the purview of Wyoming’s public health system. By having a talented class of public health professionals working within government agencies and non-governmental organizations alike, Wyoming has been able to make some impressive achievements in recent years.
According to the American Public Health Association’s 2014 report:
- Wyoming has the cleanest air in the nation
- The percentage of people in Wyoming who lack health insurance is lower than the national average of 15.5 percent
- Wyoming has the fifth-lowest incidence of infectious diseases and the lowest violent crime rates in the nation
- Wyoming is in the top-10 states with the least-obese population
- Wyoming has decreased its percentage of children living in poverty by three percent in just five years
These are just some of the successes Wyoming’s public health professionals can celebrate, but challenges still remain.
To attract the most qualified and talented specialists, Wyoming offers attractive job prospects and competitive salaries, as recently reflected in the following data published by the US Department of Labor (2015):
- Environmental Scientists and Environmental Health Scientists – Wyoming has the second-highest concentration of these professionals in the nation
- Mental Health Counselors – Wyoming offers the third-highest average salary for these professionals in the nation
- Health Educators – Southeastern Wyoming has the fifth-highest concentration of these professionals of all rural areas in the nation
- Medical and Health Services Managers – Cheyenne has one of the highest concentrations of these professionals of all cities in the nation
Wyoming’s Public Health Initiatives in Action
According to the Public Health Action Campaign, even though Wyoming is the least populated state in the nation, it spends the 11th highest amount of money on public health per year of all states in the nation. In 2014, this included:
- $54.35 per person from state funding – approximately $31.7 million total
- $26.77 per person from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – approximately $15.6 million total
- $17.38 per person from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency that is part of the federal DHHS – approximately $10.2 million total
- $3.59 per person from the National Institutes of Health – approximately $2.1 million total
Educational Campaigns – In a February 2015 public health initiative, Wyoming’s public health program directors and health promotion specialists led an educational campaign targeting populations that biostatisticians had identified as being vulnerable to a potential measles outbreak.
Health Inspections and Public Alerts – In spring 2015, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality issued a public warning about floodwaters and their potential to contaminate local wells.
Contingency Plans – Recently the state faced a public heath curve ball as a company that owned several assisted living facilities announced it was folding, leaving the Wyoming Department of Health temporarily in charge. Public health professionals working for government agencies as well as those from the private sector stepped up to this challenge to ensure that retirement facility residents were safe. Nurses and other healthcare professionals, program directors, sanitation inspectors, and nutritionists were all involved in mounting a concerted effort to keep the retirement facilities functioning in a safe, hygienic and healthy manner.
Qualifications for a Career in Public Health
Public health professionals virtually always hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree related to their field of expertise. Those that hold the Master of Public Health (MPH) are in particularly high demand.
Working to resolve the most pressing public health concerns often calls for an interdisciplinary degree such as a master’s in public health. In fact, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) requires that all MPH programs include courses in the five core public health disciplines:
- Environmental Health
- Social and Behavioral Sciences
- Health Policy and Health Administration
Schools of public health and universities that offer MPH programs recognize bachelor’s degrees in virtually any major as meeting the undergraduate requirements for a master’s in public health. This makes MPH programs ideal for those who may be changing careers to enter the public health sector.
A May 2015 survey of public health job openings in Wyoming revealed the following education requirements, which help illustrate the value of an MPH and other related degrees:
- Health Services Administrator with Community Educations Centers in Casper – This company is a private-sector provider of educational services that focus on health for prison and re-entry programs. Prospective candidates should have a master’s degree in nursing.
- Field Epidemiologist with the Cheyenne Public Health Division – To be eligible for this position, candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as epidemiology; preference will be given to candidates with a core understanding of public health.
- Mental Health Case Manager at the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center – To qualify for this position, candidates will need to have at least a master’s degree in a mental health field.
In 2015 Wyoming residents could pursue an in-state master’s degree in a number of fields that relate to public health, including:
- Agricultural Economics and Water Resources
- Animal and Veterinary Science
- Atmospheric Sciences
- Chemical Engineering
- Environmental and Natural Resources
- Food Science and Human Nutrition
- Geology and Water Resources
- Kinesiology and Health
- Molecular Biology
- Natural Science
- Nurse Educator
- Public Administration
- Social Work
- Soil Science
- Water Resources
- Zoology, Physiology, and Water Resources
Wyoming’s Public Health Resources
Wyoming’s public health professionals make a vital contribution to the health and well-being of the state’s residents, whether working for government agencies or non-profit organizations:
- Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
- Wyoming Department of Health (DOH)
- Wyoming Comprehensive Cancer Control Consortium
- Wyoming Food Safety Coalition
- Wyoming Breastfeeding Coalition
- Wyoming Fire Sprinkler Coalition
Non-Governmental and Private Organizations
- Wyoming Public Health Association
- Wyoming Association of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers
- Wyoming Counseling Association
- Wyoming Nurses Association
- Wyoming Environmental Health Association