There is a common metaphor that helps illustrate the work that is done in public health. It’s known as the “upstream” metaphor and it goes like this: People are drowning in a river. Rescue workers are pulling them out but soon realize that no matter how hard they work, there are always more people floating downstream. Public health advocates walk upstream, to find out why people are falling into the river and drowning.
The opportunities to work in public health, and walk upstream to help solve root health problems, are abundant. At Oregon State University, we offer undergraduate, Master’s and PhD degrees in public health. Our Master of Public Health (MPH) degree provides training in six important fields – biostatistics, epidemiology, environment safety and health, health management and policy, health promotion, and international health.
The field of public health offers exciting careers for men and women committed to making a difference in the health and well-being of people and their environments here and around the world.
Increasingly, the complex health issues of today require public health education that applies behavioral, social, and environmental sciences as well as policy and measurement to improve population health at local, national and international levels. Public health keeps people healthy. Healthy people live, learn, and work better.
Life expectancy has quadrupled in the last 150 years due to basic public health interventions, yet today’s youth represent the first generation of Americans whose health is predicted to be worse than their parents’. Modern technology has created new obstacles to health in our society, and we are faced with changing public environments and policies to maintain and improve the public’s health.
The need for individuals with public health training is clear:
- Nationwide we need three times the number of public health graduates/year over the next 12 years. For Oregon, this means increasing from 80 to 240 Masters of Public Health (MPH) graduates each year.
- Of the current public health workforce, 80 percent have little to no professional, academic training in public health.
- An estimated 20 percent of the average state health agency’s workforce will be eligible to retire within three years.
- To adequately staff county health departments in Oregon alone will require an additional 394 public health workers.