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Careers in Public Health Policy Administration
By Sam MacArthur

The field of public health policy and public health administration is fundamentally concerned with the management, the leadership, and the administration of the various health care systems located throughout the United States. These health care facilities include public health systems, hospitals, outpatient clinics, or the Veteran’s Administration (VA), to name a few.  

If you have been thinking or considering a career in public health policy, you likely have a keen interest in what jobs in public health policy are available. As you start your investigative research, it is best, to begin with broad questions like –

  • What is policy development in public health, and what degree would I need to pursue this career?
  • What is public health administration and policy?

The answer to the 2nd question posed is as follows – Those employed in public health policy jobs maintain and revise legislative public health policy by acting as liaisons between various public health organizations and government agencies. Read on to learn the role of a public health policy administrator in the 21st-century medical field.

What is Public Health Policy and Administration?

Public health is the field of science that promotes the well-being of individuals and assists in the prevention of illness, whenever possible. The ultimate goal of public health poicy is to prolong the lifespan and quality of life of the members of society. Those professionals employed in public health policy jobs take on the responsibility of maintaining public safety and health by working in government agencies or private facilities – although they both operate with the same objective, to improve the lives of everyone the program reaches.

What is the Role of Public Health Policy Makers?

Many individuals choose to pursue a career in public health policy because they personally want to make a difference in people’s lives by helping improve public policies regarding health care for the family and the individual. Those who choose a career in public policy typically need to obtain a master’s degree in public health (at least at some point in their career) or a closely-related field to rise into the upper management levels of public health policy managers.

Public health policy jobs are filled by those professionals who wish to improve the healthcare system in a process that improves the lives of those living in their communities. Public health policy jobs include the many professionals who act in concert – collaboratively working like a well-oiled machine from within skyscrapers in cities to the most remote communities across the world.

Responsibilities and Jobs in Public Health Policy

A large part of public health workers’ goal is to reveal underlying patterns that could be corrected or improved. When that data is revealed, a public health policymaker can formulate and implement a corrective plan that can directly and profoundly influence many individuals.

What is Policy Development in Public Health?

Public Health Administrators manage the operation of many types of medical facilities, healthcare systems, hospitals, and home health care agencies. A Public Policy administrator’s professional responsibility varies and is contingent upon the public health professional’s education, experience, or field of expertise.

Among the many hats, a public health administrator may wear,   are the tasks of directing programs, staffing departments, writing grants, managing public relations divisions, and any other managerial function related to the effective management of medical or health care center.

What is Public Health Policy and Management?

Those candidates interested in jobs in public health policy at managerial levels must possess skills from business, human resource management, negotiations, and healthcare law, among many others. A partial list of some of the responsibilities for those jobs in public health policy for administrators is as follows –

  •        Educate the public regarding health issues
  •        Develop leadership and write grant proposals
  •        Identify and evaluate community health issues, often using in-depth research
  •        Implement outreach programs throughout communities
  •        Implement regulations to improve public health and safety
  •        Manage facilities, budgeting, and finances
  •        Maintain government compliance
  •        Design work environments
  •        Manage fundraising events and policies

What is an Example of a Public Health Policy?

Public health policymakers set forth plans to implement based on specific and defined public health objectives. Public health issues range from ensuring underprivileged children receive proper nutrition to exacting an effort to stop the threat of opioid addiction.

Perhaps there is no bigger example of a need for implementing effective public health policy than when COVID-19 hit at the end of 2019.

A Timeline of COVID-19 Happenings

  • On December 31, 2019, officials in the Chinese province of Wuhan confirmed several dozen pneumonia cases with an unknown cause.
  • January 7, 2020 – COVID-19 is first identified by scientists.
  • January 11, 2020 – the first death in China is reported – the death of a 61-year-old man.
  • January 20, 2020 – the first cases outside of China are reported in South Korea, Japan, and Thailand.
  • January 21, 2020 – the U.S. revealed its first coronavirus case.  A man in Washington State in his 30s is the first American to be diagnosed with COVID-19.

Healthcare professionals working on the frontlines during this global medical emergency are fighting an uphill battle for a number of reasons. Based on the challenging nature of COVID-19,  it became readily apparent that this novel coronavirus posed a significant public health issue to the United States and the entire globe.

As such, with the urgency to contain and control COVID-19,  a public health emergency was declared. Alex M Azar II – the Secretary of Health and Human Services, on January 31, 2020, made such a declaration. The public health emergency declaration states that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will be working with state health departments and providing clinical and research guidance as necessary throughout the pandemic.

One of the ways the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health took part in COVID-19 public health policy-making was by issuing its guidance document entitled The Policy for Coronavirus Disease -2019.

The guidance offered by the FDA is to assist labs in optimizing their testing capabilities and accelerating testing for COVID-19 on a widespread basis. The acceleration of testing was needed for the CDC and other public health agencies to gain some control over the infectious coronavirus, COVID-19 spreading across the country.

Public Health Policy and Management Salary Statistics

According to the BLS, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the public health job salary (categorized as medical and health services managers by the BLS), had a median annual salary for 2019 of $100,980, which translates to $48.55 per hour. In addition, the salary range for public health policy administrators ranges from about $58,000 on the low end of the scale to almost $190,000 on the upper end of the scale.

In 2018, there were more than 400,000 public health workers employed in the United States. The anticipated job growth for the medical and health services managers through 2028 is 18%, a growth rate considered to be much faster than the average of all US combined jobs, average at about 8% over the same decade.

Public Health Policy Jobs – By Highest level of EmploymentPublic Health Policy Salary
General Medical & Hospitals$124,180 per year
Doctor’s Offices$108,750  per year
Outpatient Facilities$110,630  per year
Skilled Nursing$  97,300  per year
Home Health Agencies$  97,560  per year
Public Health Policy Jobs – By Top Paying IndustryPublic Health Policy Analyst Salary
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manuf.$204,300 per year
Scientific R&D$169,240  per year
Wholesale Electronic markets$162,880  per year
Electromedical Manufacturing$159,910 per year
Chemical Manufacturing$ 155,180 per year
Public Health Policy Jobs – By Top Paying StatesPublic Health Policy Job Salary
Washington, DC$150,040 per year
New York$147,000  per year
Hawaii$133,320  per year
California$133,040 per year
Massachusetts$132,960 per year

Where do Public Health Administrator Work?

Public Health Administrators find rewarding work in both the public and private sectors. Many health administrators work in government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. In the private sector, public health administrators work in managerial positions for nonprofit health care organizations, community outreach programs, hospitals, home health agencies, nursing facilities, and academia.

Other career opportunities available to those with a public health management degree include the following –

Public Health Engineer

 A public health engineer works with corporations to ensure employees operate in the safest of conditions.

Health Information Manager

A health information manager is tasked with the responsibility of managing and maintaining the comprehensive recording keeping of all patients. These public health workers are generally technically skillful, as many federal guidelines must be met to ensure compliance.

Education

 Many public health administrators find they gravitate towards academia, preferring to refine the teaching methods for the next generation of public health administrators.

Public Health Journalist

Those public health administrators with a penchant for writing will find rewarding work as a public health journalist. Often, it is the public health journalists who have the skill to write about complex issues in a way that permits the general public to have a full understanding of the issue.

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