Master of Public Health: Your Key to a Powerful Disaster Relief Career

by Ashley Eneriz

Take a peek at today’s news stories and you’re bound to find at least one natural or man-made disaster happening this moment. Whether it be a damaging tornado or a traumatic act of terror, emergencies occur every day, all over the world. With more information and resources than ever, the world is in need of more people-centered individuals with a Master of Public Health degree to aid communities around the globe.

If you want to work toward a career that makes a difference in people’s lives, the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at Azusa Pacific University can prepare you to help improve the wellness across communities. This degree pathway allows you to have a varied impact policy and program planning. Your MPH degree could help you work to reduce infant death rates in your city or even create natural disaster solutions in India. The possibilities to help others are endless.

A Growing Job Market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health service manager careers are predicted to grow 18 percent between 2018 and 2028, adding over 71,000 new jobs to the field during this time. The BLS also took a look at careers in disaster relief and found that the industry more than doubled between 1990 and 2017—and is projected to grow even more through 2026. If you’re interested in pursuing this career path, your journey could be incredibly well-timed.

Character Traits Needed for a Career in Public Health

While a career in disaster relief and public health is steady both in pay and employment opportunities, individuals need to have a heart for the career. It might not be for everyone! Here are some of the top character traits needed to be successful in this field:

  • Compassion for Others: During your time on the job, you’re likely going to see people at their worst, in times of desperation. This is when they’ll need your support and compassion the most, whether you’re interacting with individuals and families on site or creating policies for response situations.
  • Leader in Times of Stress: A disaster or emergency situation tends to be overwhelming for those involved. In these scenarios, people will be looking for someone to lead them to safety and help them recover.
  • Team Player: No matter what the type or size of emergency, a large team of people will need to work together for the benefit of those affected. You’ll need to work with other personality types (and people from other career fields) for the common good.
  • Flexibility: Your MPH degree will prepare you for an array of scenarios, but you will still need to be able to adapt to ever-changing situations and environments. The ability to respond quickly is key.

An MPH Degree Equips Students to Handle Any Disaster or Emergency

Marissa Brash, DrPh, department chair of the MPH program at APU, noted that the degree path is specially designed to cross-list classes so that students are working alongside nursing, physical therapy, and social work students at any given time. These are the types of professionals that MPH grads will be working alongside in their careers, so it’s important that they understand and respect the roles of other experts.

“Disaster Health and Emergency Preparedness is a crucial specialization because an emergency or disaster can occur at any time and the best way to survive is to be prepared,” Brash said.

Brash also shared some of the important tasks related to helping improve the health of a population. She noted that APU’s MPH degree program effectively equips students to handle a number of important tasks, including:

  • Conducting research on disease prevention and treatment
  • Promoting healthy lifestyle initiatives
  • Creating or changing public health policy
  • Developing social and behavioral programs
  • Working in healthcare administration
  • Coordinating efforts in the face of disasters and emergencies

“As there are so many things that a person can do in the field of public health, there is no one-size-fits-all model for the prospective student or one clear career path than an MPH graduate could take,” Brash said. In other words, a Master of Public Health gives you tons of career opportunities to try out, so you’ll never be cornered into a specific job. The possibilities are endless.