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Academic and legislative policy advisors act as liaisons between the government and public health entities. In the context of public health policy, a management policy advisor works as a healthcare administrator in public hospitals, state and local health departments or governmental agencies.

Individuals who go into public policy management tend to do so after obtaining graduate-level degrees. They have the desire to better the healthcare system for everyone and to address problems that affect a wide range of individuals.

Getting Started

Working in Public Policy & Administration

Education

Most public health administration and policy jobs involve leading a public health department or conducting research into matters of public health, and many require a master’s degree. Students can pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree or pursue other graduate-level education in a related field, such as public policy, healthcare administration, or healthcare management. These degree programs often include courses in managing infectious disease in developing countries, developing clinical trials, and running studies of health issues for specific populations, such as seniors, pregnant women, and young children.

Work Experience

Public policy and management roles are among the most administrative and senior positions in the field of public health. Even after you earn your degree, you will need to gain direct experience working in the specialization that you’re interested in.

Specializations

Public Health Researcher

These professionals take a more behind-the-scenes approach to public policy work; they neither meet directly with patients nor directly manage hospital staff. Rather, they conduct research, gathering data and compiling reports that help others create or improve public health outreach programs. Researchers often spend their careers pouring over population statistics and health reports to identify patterns.

Main Responsibilities

  • Work with academic institutions and public health organizations to collect and report health data
  • Conduct research on the ways in which communities interact with currently available health education programs and public health care assistance
  • Identify ways in which current policies could be improved to make a greater overall impact on individual communities

Additional Requirements

This specialization has no additional requirements.

Healthcare Policy Analyst

Healthcare analysts support researchers, assess programs for results and work with data. In this specialty, professionals don’t often work with the individuals who need public health services. They work behind the scenes, creating stakeholder groups to spread the message of how important knowledge of public health issues can be. In this position, an individual will need a bachelor’s degree, and sometimes, 1-2 years of work experience.

Main Responsibilities

  • Healthcare analysts create materials for stakeholder groups and their higher-ups to stay informed about issues and developments in public health policy.
  • Healthcare analysts create stakeholder groups to explore issues of public health and to get the public’s input on potential projects that raise awareness of public health issues.
  • A healthcare analyst compiles data using various computer programs and databases to create materials that assist others in making decisions.

Additional Requirements

This specialization has no additional requirements.

Health Services Manager

A health services manager in the public health sector is typically responsible for developing programs, supervising personnel and completing administrative tasks. Aspiring public health services managers must have a bachelor’s degree in public health. According to the BLS, there were 293,490 health services managers working across the U.S. in May 2012. These individuals earned an average of $47.34 per hour, or $98,460 annually.

Main Responsibilities

  • A health services manager must hire, direct and supervise personnel.
  • In this position, an individual is responsible for communicating with government agencies, medical staff and other policymakers; they must attend meetings and act as the liaison between their agency and other boards.
  • A health services manager in public health must create and monitor public health outreach campaigns designed to raise awareness of issues in public health.

Additional Requirements

Most states require health service managers or administrators to have a license in order to run a facility. Requirements of these licensure programs vary from state to state, but all must have a bachelor’s degree.

Internships

  • Maternal Child Health Careers/Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement

    In this program, students can choose from work in clinical and community settings, in community engagement and advocacy or research.

    Terms of Service: 10 weeks

    Deadline: TBD for 2015

  • Public Health Policy Internship Program

    The American Public Health Association offers this internship, giving students an opportunity to work with in the Center for Public Health Policy on a variety of topics.

    Eligibility: This program is open to undergraduate and graduate-level students.

    Terms of Service: Varies

    Deadline: TBD for 2015

  • Public Health Leadership and Learning Undergraduate Student Success (PLLUSS) Program

    This program focuses on research on health disparities, urban health issues, HIV/AIDS, community health and other health topics.

    Eligibility: The Kennedy Krieger Institute offers this program for undergraduate students in public health degree programs.

    Terms of Service: Eight weeks during the summer, five hours per week during the academic year.

    Deadline: TBD for 2015

  • Public Health Internship Program

    This internship comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. Students will work in grant management, shadow and interview HRSA staff and participate in HRSA seminars.

    Eligibility: This program is open to undergraduate and graduate-level students.

    Terms of Service: Varies

    Deadline: TBD for 2015

  • Future Public Health Leaders Program

    This CDC-funded internship is designed for undergraduate students and includes a trip to the CDC. At the end of the internship, students must deliver an oral presentation and write an abstract.

    Eligibility: This program is open to U.S. citizens who are undergraduates in their junior or senior years of college. Recent graduates may also apply.

    Terms of Service: 10 weeks

    Deadline: TBD for 2015