Career in public health?
September 28, 2013 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently a registered nurse in New Zealand. I'm about to start post-graduate study here in NZ with an eye towards a masters degree. I assumed I'd be working toward a masters in nursing (for obvious reasons) but I've always been quite keen on public health and I'm thinking of working towards an MPH. I have a school and course of study in mind already (my interests are cardiovascular health, population health, informatics, and epidemiology). Also thrown into the mix, I'm a citizen of the United States, but I completed all my university schooling in New Zealand. I might like to potentially move back to the States one day. What, if any, are my job prospects like in this instance? Any advice from current MPH students or graduates?
posted by supercrayon to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My wife has an MPH and she describes the employment situation as "vibrant". She has moved up in her career nearly every year of the last five. We live in Minneapolis.
posted by sanka at 7:21 PM on September 28, 2013

Demand for MPH will continue to grow, and you will likely have many career options - academia, policy, local health agencies, hospitals and health systems, etc.
posted by davidmsc at 1:05 AM on September 29, 2013

US MPH grad here. The MPH is a very flexible degree. Public health intersects with many other fields, including law, technology, political science, sociology, and medicine. I think the future looks very bright for MPH grads, at least in the US.

If I were looking to hire you after you graduated, I would be curious about how well an MPH from a New Zealand university covers the areas that are covered in a US accredited program: biostatistics, epidemiology, behavioral sciences, environmental health, and health policy. So be sure to take them as electives, if possible, if your chosen program doesn't include those as core courses.
posted by acridrabbit at 4:59 PM on September 29, 2013

RN, MPH here. I agree with the above posters that public health seems to be on an upswing in the US, though salaries are not high compared with typical RN salaries, which have improved greatly in the past couple of decades. I make roughly twice as an RN as I would as a newly minted MPH, and there were no - I mean not one - posted positions that asked for an RN with an MPH when I graduated. Every potential employer was thrilled that I had RN experience, but the postings were for an MPH, with an MPH salary. At the time I was looking, about 8 years ago, salaries were in the $35 -50,000 range for new MPH grads depending on the employer. Government paid more, non-profit agencies less, as they are trying to stretch their grants to cover the most salaries they can. I ended up working in non-profit service agencies, but as a volunteer. I met a lot of interesting people, have been published several times, am invited to present posters at academic meetings, and was taken more seriously than a civilian would have been, but for me the MPH has not contributed economically to my income.

RN MSN nurse practitioners, on the other hand, earn about 15 - 20% more than RNs, so about $120,000, with a starting salary upwards of $100,000.

Public Health is absolutely important, urgent, really. I think the career prospects can be rich, in academia, law and health agencies, but I don't know that having an RN will be a material advantage, at least in securing a first job.
posted by citygirl at 5:33 PM on September 29, 2013

Thanks for your answers guys, I've enrolled in an MPH program and I'm really excited!

Cheers to acidrabbit for giving me the heads up about the areas covered in US programs.

Citygirl, would you mind if I picked your brain over memail about what sorts of experiences you've had?

Thanks all.
posted by supercrayon at 3:10 AM on November 27, 2013

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