Usually comfortable working behind the scenes, COVID-19 has brought public health’s role front and centre, with public health nurses, epidemiologists, researchers and statisticians, inspectors, educators and analysts – among others – playing a significant role throughout the pandemic.
Public health is a broad term that encompasses many different disciplines and areas of study, including epidemiology, biostatistics, research methods, program planning, implementation and evaluation, and infectious disease prevention and control. The uLethbridge Master of Science in Health Sciences – Public Health specialization covers these areas of expertise, while the Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Graduate Certificate in Public Health Program and Policy Planning and Evaluation focus on specific aspects.
When not in the midst of a global pandemic, public health workers ensure people and communities stay healthy in other ways, focusing on activities such as tobacco-use prevention and control, obesity prevention, oral health, childhood immunization, and sexually transmitted infection prevention and education, among other measures. Even cancer, mental health issues, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease require a public health approach to their prevention and control.
Although those public health measures remain ongoing during the pandemic, a primary focus for public health professionals has been on reducing the spread of COVID-19, with various expertise working tireless in pursuit of that goal.
That includes tracking the spread of the disease, screening for COVID-19, testing vaccines, developing models to predict the number of cases, setting guidelines for schools, work and other social activities, and providing public health messaging and prevention guidelines.
In short, every measure – from wearing a mask and hand washing to social distancing and contact tracing – has been a result of public health interventions.
And while we await the results of a large-scale vaccine rollout, public health professionals have already started looking to the future and how they can better prepare for the next pandemic. One thing is sure: the role of public health professionals around the world will only increase as they continue their life-saving work.
Play a role in preventing future pandemics – explore graduate programs in Health Sciences at uLethbridge.
Public Health programs a glance:
- Intake: Fall or Spring semester intake
- Full-time: MSc | Part-time: Certificates
- Coursework & thesis: MSc | Coursework: Certificates
- Practicum included: MSc only
- Supervisor required: MSc only
- Delivery: In-person on the main (Lethbridge) campus