Maternal and Child Health Specialists are public health professionals, working in an interdisciplinary field. These workers have completed an MPH program with a focus in Maternal and Child Health. They provide access and information to families about health services available to benefit both the child and the parents. MCH Specialists may analyze and develop health programs that work to protect individuals and families from illnesses, and promote an overall healthy lifestyle for all members of their community. Public health professionals are “agents,” in a sense, for disease prevention. This field is so specialized and important that there are national scholarships available for students who are interested in pursuing it.
Tasks and Responsibilities of this Field
Maternal and Child Health Specialists work in a variety of public health facilities. A Maternal and Child Health Specialist is familiar with newborn screening, vaccination care, and prenatal health care programs. Working to improve health delivery systems through advocacy is also the job of an MHC Specialist. On occasion, these workers will provide home visit programs to those families who are unable to attend the clinics. Researching health problems in children is another task of a Maternal and Child Specialist. The goal of an MCH Specialist is to promote, identify, and teach social, behavioral, and healthy habits to their patients. They are required to engage the family in healthy living practices and be culturally sensitive to the patient’s personal needs. Having good interpersonal skills and able to interact well with families are also a requirement for a maternal and child health specialist. Being an active listener and critical thinker is highly recommended for the job of an MCH specialist. Some other skills and abilities include:
- Promoting the health of pregnant women
- Providing sex education and sexual reproductive health services
- Development and implementation of changes in health services for the community
- Providing methods of healthy family planning
- Working on prevention, rather than just treatment of diseases and illnesses
For information on the history of maternal and child health programs, the HRSA website offers a guided tour through the profession.
Education and Job Outlook
The average time it takes to become a Maternal and Child Health Specialist is six to nine years. The recommended path of education includes a Master of Public Health, with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. Two years of professional experience in childhood and maternal health professions is also necessary. Knowledge of reproductive health, nutrition, and health care access are core subjects for an MCH specialist. Discussions of reproductive rights and women’s empowerment begin in the classroom for these specialists and must be translated to the field. Maternal and Child Health Specialists work within the public health sector of Human Services. It is a highly demanding field of work. Understanding maternal and child issues on either a local, regional, or international level will increase the job performance of an MCH specialist. The work environment of an MCH varies. Some of these professionals work as technical assistants in public health clinics, while others work at the state or government offices. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are also common places of employment. The salary and outlook for this niche of Public Health area will not disappoint either. Many will find work in the education field, helping students get a closer look at the problems that families face. The salary average of an MCH is $44,532 for the nearly 5,800 MCH specialists working nationwide.