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    3. Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree in Alabama

      Public Health Career Education in Alabama

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      TABLE OF CONTENTS

      Public Health Professionals are responsible for safeguarding Alabama residents from threats to their health, whether it is from the intrusion of a deadly virus or through groundbreaking research that can turn raw data into actionable health policy. With one of the highest state poverty percentages in the country, there is a growing need for licensed public health professionals in the state of Alabama.

      Not only does Alabama offer a number of accredited, highly-ranked programs, but it is also a viable job market for anyone with a public health degree. In this guide, we are going to go over the basic information needed to decide if an Alabama public health degree is the right direction for you, as well as the average expectations regarding position, salary, licensing, and more.

      Overview: Public Health Careers in Alabama

      According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), some of the greatest risks to public health in the state are dropping after a decade’s worth of reform and $4 billion in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The state’s number one cause of death for people under the age of 45 is trauma like car crashes, workplace accidents, and violent crime. Thanks to a new system first established in 2007 and implemented in 2014, the entire state now has access to trauma centers, which has significantly reduced the time it takes for a patient to receive treatment.

      Alabama public health officials have also maintained free screening and diagnostic services for women to help stop cancer before it can develop into a serious health risk. Since 2001, a total of 1,590 incidents of breast cancer were diagnosed during free screenings alongside 1,138 incidents of pre-invasive and cervical cancers, according to the ADPH. Thanks to the free screening program, all of those women had a fighting chance at successfully treating their cancer.

      However, in a report to the governor of Alabama, ADPH State Health Officer Donald Williamson stated that one of the most critical goals of public health officials everywhere is to improve the state’s infant mortality rate. Numbers have dropped only slightly since 2012 from 8.9 deaths per 1000 births to 8.6 in 2014. However, while there was an overall drop, numbers stayed consistent from 2013 to 2014, and mortality rates actually rose for black infants. Considering it to be one of the greatest health risks facing the state today, the ADPH considers infant mortality to be its top priority in the years to come.

      While funding has had a major impact, that funding would be worthless without educated public health professionals with the skills to develop policy and implement beneficial programs.

      What is CEPH accreditation?

      The Council on Education for Public Health, or CEPH, is an independent agency that has been recognized by the United States Department of Education to provide accreditation to schools that offer programs in the field of public health. Many of the public health jobs that we talk about in this guide require a degree from CEPH-accredited program, so it is always a good idea to look for these 4 letters when selecting a university or online program

      Earning Your Master of Public Health in Alabama

      The Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is designed to advance the careers of public health professionals by honing their skills and focusing them towards the core issues of the field.

      Online and part time MPH programs help to provide a degree of flexibility that can help even the busiest working students succeed. Fast track options have even helped some students to receive their degrees after only one year.

      Accelerated One-Year and Part-Time Options

      Most master’s programs offer flexible options for credit loads that allow students to graduate at their own pace. MPH programs are no exception.

      Part-time options allow busy students to complete their program in as long as four years. For students working full time or pursuing other professional and academic goals, this may be the best option for earning an MPH.

      Step One: Know the Education Basics

      Most MPH programs do not require matching undergraduate degrees, instead accepting most any bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4-year university. Graduate students in MPH programs often come from a background in health administration, business, nutrition, healthcare, or education. Still, students with educational experiences of every kind will find that their unique perspective can help to fuel a successful career in public health.

      Academic Overview

      The standards for most MPH programs are set in stone by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Since 2004, CEPH accredited programs have been based on the MPH Core Competency Model developed by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). These competencies are:

      • Biostatistics
      • Environmental Health Sciences
      • Epidemiology
      • Health Policy Management
      • Social and Behavioral Sciences

      While the five core competencies form the basis of MPH programs, the ASPH also identified seven interdisciplinary areas of focus that they believe are necessary for a graduate to function in a contemporary public health setting. These are:

      • Communication and Informatics
      • Diversity and Culture
      • Leadership
      • Professionalism
      • Program Planning
      • Public Health Biology
      • Systems Thinking

      Admission Requirements

      Admission requirements for master’s programs will differ from program to program and universities will usually list their specific requirements. However, generally speaking, the list below is a standard set of requirements for graduate-level MPH programs:

      • Submission of GRE, LSAT, GMAT, or MCAT
      • Submission of official transcripts from all other undergraduate and graduate institutions
      • Submission of a 500-1000 word purpose essay
      • Resume
      • Two letters of recommendation

      Step Two: Choosing a State Public Health School

      Anyone looking to pursue their public health degree in Alabama has a lot of options. In all, Alabama has a total of 38 CEPH-accredited public health degree programs offered through state universities, as well as a number of online public health programs that can help students obtain the degree they need to enter the field.

      Getting Your MPH Online in Alabama

      The University of Alabama at Birmingham is only one of a wide number of U.S. universities that are offering MPH programs over the internet. In the last few years, these programs have managed to build a reputation for offering a comprehensive, experience-based educational program that is designed to give students the tools they need to land a job in the field.

      Online MPH programs are not just video lectures and distance learning; they integrate big research projects, in-lab experimentation, and thoughtful online discussions. The programs are also designed to provide students with the framework or specialization, in other words, choosing the specific branch of public health that they would like to pursue.

      Centers established in Birmingham out of the University of Birmingham are responsible for cutting edge efforts in the world of Microbiology, and have been responsible for breakthrough research into diseases like Ebola and Cystic Fibrosis. Continued success in their research makes for a positive outlook for the public health community at every level as new treatments and strategies developed there are integrated into modern health practices.

      Step Three: Choosing a Public Health Specialization

      MPH programs will regularly offer specializations designed to challenge students with additional areas of focus to prepare them for careers in public health policy development and program administration. Most of these specializations will constitute between 10 and 15 additional credits alongside their courses. Some options available in Alabama include:

      Health Communication

      This focus is designed around properly communicating and marketing health campaigns to the public and to their administrative staff as well as planning events and courses that teach and empower people to take care of their bodies. The Alabama Public Health Training Network ran workshop’s in the beginning of 2015 that aided and educated breast cancer survivors alongside a healthy weight initiative at the end of 2014, both campaigns designed by health communications professionals to make an impact on a large scale.

      Courses within this specialization may include:/p>
      • Leadership Seminar
      • Global Health Communication Interventions
      • Preventing Health Disparities
      • Social Marketing
      • Marketing and Research for Public Health

      Health Policy

      This focus is designed for specialists who want to use their skills and knowledge to aid in keeping health policy relevant. It also means keeping an eye on developing health problems and designing new policy to address sudden epidemics of disease or injury. The Alabama Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care (ADHPC) is filled with health policy experts who have been working to contain the outbreak since the disease first reared its ugly head. The ADHPC’s efforts have helped to keep the spread of HIV/AIDS in check since the early 1990’s, and continued research and advocacy efforts are dedicated to eliminating the disease entirely.

      Courses within this specialization may include:
      • Monitoring and Evaluation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
      • Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health
      • Global Health Diplomacy
      • Leadership Seminar
      • Law, Medicine and Ethics

      Program Planning and Evaluation

      Specialists in program planning and evaluation focus their efforts towards understanding what makes programs impactful and what can be done to improve the programs in their region. In Alabama, the Office of Prevention of the Alabama Department of Mental Health recently evaluated its addiction prevention efforts in a report analyzing its Tobacco Sales to Minors program. They developed a new data driven process around implementation and program capacity that they believe will have an impact on youth tobacco usage in 2016. Public health experts have been a part of this effort from the very beginning and will continue to be there throughout the evaluation process.

      Courses within this specialization may include:

      • Monitoring and Evaluation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
      • Researching Violence Against Women and Girls
      • Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health
      • Social Marketing
      • Marketing Research for Public Health

      Global Health

      While public health policy is often handled through local government and small private efforts, some health concerns require attention on a global scale. The recent mass immigration of Syrian refugees has had a major impact on the health systems of Northern and Eastern Europe. Both the native and immigrant populations found themselves exposed to new diseases with no time to develop immunization. Making sure the region was properly supplied with vaccinations and health staff to accommodate the increase in need was the responsibility of global health experts with the knowledge and experience to handle epidemic level issues.

      Courses within this specialization may include:
      • Monitoring and Evaluation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
      • Researching Violence Against Women and Girls
      • Global Health Communication Interventions
      • Preventing Health Disparities
      • Global Health Diplomacy
      • Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
      • Climate Change and Social Change

      Opportunities With a Public Health Degree in Alabama

      Opportunities With a Public Health Degree in Alabama

      Getting a degree in public health is not only an effective way to serve your city, state, or even national community, but it is also a good decision for anyone who is looking for a career path that can offer an impressive blend of stability, growth, and compensation while also not being out of anyone’s reach.

      Because there are a number of affordable state schools that offer the programs required to obtain a degree in public health, this is a viable career option that does not require an overly-expensive education in order to obtain.

      However, most MPH programs also offer an accelerated one-year option that takes the opposite approach. Students take on a heavier course load and are able to graduate in as little as 12 months. The curriculum is no different than a standard online or campus-based MPH program, but is designed around a much more intensive schedule.

      Job Growth Projections – Master’s-Educated Public Health Professionals in Alabama

      According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alabama will see strong job growth in the public health sector during the ten-year period between 2018 and 2028:

      • Social and Community Service Managers +18%
      • Statisticians +22%
      • Microbiologists +6%
      • Biological Scientists +3%
      • Rehabilitation Counselors +29%

      Salary Range – Public Health Professions in Alabama

      The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics provided the following figures for public health jobs in Alabama in 2018. The salaries below range from the bottom tenth percentile to the 90th percentile:

      • Social and Community Services Managers: $35,120 – $98,200
      • Statisticians: $33,830 – $89,260
      • Microbiologists: $32,115 – $125,570
      • Biological Scientists: $45,560 – $62,979
      • Epidemiologists- $65,994 – $131,027
      • Social Scientists- $32,730 – $81,846
      • Rehabilitation Counselors- $18,090 – $61,255

      Q: What’s the Difference Between Bachelor Degree & Master Degree for Public Health?

      In Alabama, the majority of public health education programs are offered at the MPH / Masters degree level. While undergraduate options are available, this guide focuses primarily on the opportunities available to anyone who is planning on getting a Master of Public Health.

      Generally speaking, an MPH can lead to more job opportunities than a bachelor degree in the same field, as well as a larger annual salary on average.

      Q: Where do Public Health Professionals Work in Alabama?

      Depending on their professional specialty, public health officials might be working in an office, laboratory, state health department, or perhaps teaching at a college or university. Some public health professionals even work in the field, such as trained epidemiologists in emergency or clinical situations.

      Careers You Can Get with a Public Health Degree in Alabama

      Below are a handful of job postings that represent some of the career options available to graduates with an MPH. (The following samples are examples only and are not representative of a job offer or an assurance of employment.)

      Clinical Coordinator for Rehabilitation Counseling Alabama A&M University Responsibilities
      • Advise and supervisor internships and practicums of graduate students
      • Teach and coordinate graduate level practicum and internship experiences in agencies providing services for individuals with disabilities
      Requirements
      • Master’s degree in MPH or a closely related field
      • Experience in program coordination, rehabilitation knowledge, agency resources, and evaluation of agencies and student performance during on-site placements
      • Experience in clinical supervision of rehabilitation counseling students
      Clinical Lab Scientist/Medical Technologist DCH Health System Responsibilities
      • Performs basic and advanced emergency, therapeutic, and diagnostic laboratory procedures
      • Maintains and operates various instruments following established procedures
      • Answers inquiries about test results, methodology, specificity, sensitivity, and interpretation
      Requirements
      • Must possess manual dexterity and fine motor skills
      • Ability to lift and carry objects up to 50 pounds
      • Recognition of risk related to exposure to body fluids, disease, infection, chemicals, and other hazardous materials

      Infection Preventionist

      Southeast Alabama Medical center

      Responsibilities

      • Generation of reports, graphs, and trend tables related to disease prevention
      • Manage potential disease containment in emergency scenario

      Requirements

      • 3-5 years in a clinical setting
      • Knowledge in basic surveillance and epidemiology
      • advanced computer skills

      Clinical Analyst

      Hudsonalpha Institute for Biotechnology

      Responsibilities

      • Gather business data from clinical faculty and investigators in the Genomic Medicine Clinic and collaborate on the design of new studies based on available systems
      • Participate in analytics-based quality improvement projects that leverage data collected from electronic medical records
      • Produce reports that facilitate evidence based clinical and financial decisions

      Requirements

      • Experience with data analysis, management, and clinical research
      • Experience in medical policy documentation
      • Relevant clinical application including graduate level educational experience
      • Knowledge of various information systems and clinical software in a healthcare setting

      Public Health Resources for Students & Professionals

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      Alabama Department of Public Health

      The Alabama Public Health website is a valuable resource for anyone who is studying public health, starting the licensing process, or is interested in reading up on the relevant laws and regulations regarding public health in the state of Alabama. It is also a good source of up-to-the-minute coverage of health-related news topics statewide.

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      Alabama Commission on Higher Education

      Anyone who is looking for detailed information about a specific educational institution in the state of Alabama should start with the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. This website provides helpful information on new academic programs, statewide statistics, record systems, and campus review systems that allow potential students to learn more about the school that they’re interested in.

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      State of Alabama: Official Website

      If you cannot find the answers you are looking for at either of the above locations, then there is a good chance that it appears at the official Stae of Alabama website. This is hub where residents and visitors alike can get updates on health, travel, jobs, and just about anything else that you can think of.

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