Careers in Public Health
A career with Community and Public Health will see you working for an organisation committed to providing the best public health services possible. Opportunities exist for career development, with the chance to gain extensive experience in a public health related setting.
Community and Public Health has three distinct types of public health workers: Health Promoters, Health Protection Officers and Public Health Physicians.
Other key people who make up the workforce include:
- Administration staff
- Drinking Water Assessors
- Information Analysts
Focus of Health Promoters
Health Promoters plan, implement and evaluate activities that promote health and wellbeing in communities. Health promotion is about having better health and more control over wellbeing.
Most health promoters work on one or two key issues (e.g. nutrition, tobacco control, etc.) or work in settings such as schools or marae with a focus on a group, such as children. They seek evidence-based strategies to achieve change.
Health promoters need a wide range of skills and usually continue to train in specific areas dictated by the particular needs of their role.
Role of Health Protection Officers
Health Protection Officers (HPOs) plan and implement activities that protect health and wellbeing in communities. They investigate public health concerns, provide advice and information to community leaders and the public as part of a public health enforcement team. They carry out a regulatory role on behalf of the Director-General of Health.
Areas of focus are environmental health and communicable diseases. In environmental health, HPOs identify and quantify threats, work with others to minimise them. Areas include bio-security and quarantine, drinking water quality, hazardous substances, resource management issues.
Health protection officers undertake surveillance and investigation of communicable disease. They prevent diseases spreading by food and water and enforce effective waste disposal. They also contribute to the management of sustainable environments.
Read about the launch of “A Job worth Doing – Tales of Health Protection in NZ” edited by former Canterbury DHB Health Protection Officer Malcolm Walker.
Medical Expertise in Public Health
Public Health Physicians are qualified medical doctors who choose to specialise in the health of groups or whole communities rather than working on individual healthcare. They are involved in promoting health and preventing disease by assessing a community’s health needs and by providing services to these communities.
Most public health physicians are involved in planning, funding and management of health services, the delivery of public health projects, and communicable disease control. Some public health physicians might undertake specialisation as a Medical Officer of Health, with specific regulatory powers and responsibilities under the Health Act and other public health legislation.