Public health workers are among the frontline workforce that works selflessly to provide the best care to patients during a healthcare crisis such as a disease outbreak. They also strive to educate the masses about the best health practices and lifestyles to avoid chronic disease and improve longevity.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has witnessed a spike in demand for public health workers. Public health workers have garnered acknowledgment and appreciation from people for their dedicated services. It has also instilled in many people a passion for becoming a public health worker.
If you’re an aspiring public health worker or have just stepped into the field, we’ve listed a few tips that can help you professionally and personally.
Develop a strong educational background
Public health offers a diverse range of job options, but before stepping into this niche, you must ensure you have the proper knowledge and license to practice. From then onwards, you can become a community health worker, a health educator, or an administrator.
However, if you wish to advance in the profession, you can pursue a master’s degree in public health (MPH). If studying alongside your job is challenging, you can enroll in an MPH online degree and complete your coursework flexibly.
After securing an MPH, you can bag high-paying jobs like an Emergency Specialist, Epidemiologist, or Public Health Director. With a strong educational background, you’ll develop and enhance the technical skills required for your desired position.
Enhance your skills
With a degree from a reputable institute, you’ll also need to have a fine set of skills to excel in public health. Communication is among the most important skill you’ll need to focus on and improve throughout your career. As a public health worker, you’ll be expected to communicate with individual people or the masses, colleagues, and government officials. Your assertive yet gentle tone should be able to convince people to improve their living style or take necessary precautions in light of an epidemic.
In addition, certain public health jobs like that of an Epidemiologist or Communicable Disease Analyst require technical skills. Tasks such as data entry and operating machines are a few common technical duties public health workers should know how to perform. Moreover, since public health workers can be placed in different regions facing an epidemic, being multilingual would be a bonus.
Take precautions on the field
Once you step foot into the field, you must protect yourself first before you can help others. As a public health worker, you must follow standard precautions to minimize the spread of diseases. As a part of safety protocols, you should ensure hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, when dealing with patients. In case of respiratory symptoms, workers should cover their noses and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
Moreover, getting vaccinated is important for a job that puts you at a higher risk of disease exposure. Public health workers should be vaccinated against Hepatitis B, influenza, measles, chicken pox, and COVID-19. Some workers, such as travel nurses, are asked to be immunized for certain infections by the state.
Public health workers need to be on their toes in desperate times. The duty demands patience and a tenacious attitude. However, working with ailing patients or in dire situations during an epidemic can affect the workers’ mental and physical health. Hence you must prioritize self-care for optimum performance.
An integral part of self-care is to ensure a work-life balance. Although it can be hard to separate the emotional baggage at work from your personal life, you must set boundaries and not let your work pressure creep into your personal life.
As a member of the frontline workforce, you are expected to take on great responsibilities. However, you must set realistic and achievable goals to perform to the best of your ability. You should also set aside time for your hobbies or interests. You can enjoy activities like painting, gardening, reading, or outdoor activities like cycling and swimming, which can refresh your mind and body. Another crucial requirement is to be well-rested before turning up for work. Since many public health workers work long shifts, getting sound sleep is important.
Public health work is an extremely rewarding but demanding job. To excel in the sector, you must have a strong educational background and diverse skills. Apart from that, once you start to work, you must religiously ensure the practice of standard precautions. For your well-being, you must take time for self-care to exhibit optimum performance on duty. Those who are new or who aspire to enter the field must incorporate the few tips elaborated on to ensure they enjoy working on the frontline.