I Want to Work in ...... Epidemiology and Public Health
The task of epidemiologists is to reduce public health risks by studying the pattern of disease or health risks in populations. The epidemiologist investigates how diseases affect certain populations, the emergence of viruses in particular countries, or they may track diseases. They can then make predictions about likelihood of the disease accurring, and work out strategies to prevent or limit it.
Epidemiological methods are used increasingly in medical research, public health practice and health care evaluation.
As well as a strong scienctific background you also need good maths skills, especially in statistics and probability since much of what the epidemiologist does depends on interpretation of data including spatial epidemiology, statistical genetics or the quantitative analysis of infectious disease dynamics. A related job using mathematics and computing skills is bioinformatics.
Epidemiology is a central feature of public health policy. Government agencies such as the Health & Safety Executive www.hse.gov.uk/careers/index.htm in the UK employ epidemiologists to help research public health crises and to help set public health policy.Epidemiologists also work at research centres and in universities.
Organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) www.who.int/employment/en/index.html and MSF (see below) also employ public health experts.
Médecins Sans Frontières MSF www.msf.org.uk
Regularly recruit epidemiologists for field support of projects. Roles include outbreak management, helping teams plan appropriate responses, including active case finding, vaccination or watsan intervention (e.g. meningitis, measles or cholera), conducting mortality surveys, evaluation and set up of surveillance systems, and also epidemiological support in complex projects to enhance evidence based decision making.
- Must have a degree or MSc in epidemiology
- Design / implementation / evaluation of quantitative and qualitative epidemiological research methods
- Design and implement surveillance and other data collection systems for disease and outbreak monitoring, including mortality and nutritional surveys
- Software for epidemiological database and statistical analysis (Microsoft Excel and statistical programs)
How to become an epidemiologist
Epidemiologists usually have a BSc in science and an MSc or PhD in epidemiology. So after obtaining your degree in science the next step would usually be to do an MSc in Epidemiology or Public Health. Epidemiology courses may include study of chronic and infectious diseases, psychology, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, environmental impacts on humans, toxicology, biostatistics, and health service administration.Some courses are listed below, but you will find other courses at www.prospects.ac.uk/links/PGDbase
- MSc Epidemiology - London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
- MSc Modern Epidemiology - Imperial College London
- MSc Dental Public Health University College London - Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
- MSc Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health by Distance Learning - Royal Veterinary College
Of interest to veterinarians, livestock farmers and scientists.
|There is a board game called Pandemic in which the goal is tp rid the world of epidemics. It is interesting in that it is one of the few cooperative board game, where the objective is not to beat the other players, but to jointly beat "the game"|
Public Health Nurse and Health Visitor
A related career would be to train as a public health nurse or health visitor www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/details/Default.aspx?Id=807
This would not qualify you as an epidemiologist but would allow you to work in a career in public health.
First you would train as a nurse www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/nursing.htm
and then do a postgraduate course such as one of these after at least two years nursing experience:
- MSc Public Health Nursing Practice - University of Huddersfield Part-time post-graduate course which prepares nurses and midwives for public health nursing as either health visitors or school nurses.
- MSc / PGDip Specialist Community Public Health Nursing - Cardiff University
Last fully updated 2011