The Complete Guide to Becoming a Public Health Analyst

The Complete Guide to Becoming a Public Health Analyst
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Health is important to every one of us. Even if you do not consider it important and do everything that is against the recommended health practices, if your body decides to ask it of you, at that moment, your health would be very important to you.

We have heard it said that health and wealth and probably beginning to think it is just a cliché like other overused expressions such as “money cannot buy happiness.”. The truth about clichés is that they may be overused; it does not change the truth of it. The fact that health is wealth is one of such truths. 

Some of us probably know rich people who lost their lives due to their health. Imagine if the money could buy them health, do you think they would not have readily paid to be whole? It goes to show that indeed he who has health has wealth.

This is where public health analysts come in.

Who Is A Public Health Analyst? 

You might be wondering what a public health analyst has to do with your personal health.

A public health analyst gathers data or policies or information, based on general or specific issues, and analyse them in order to test their effectiveness or efficiency.

They are important in the health sector in that they analyse or examine trends and data on health related issues to come up with the best health practices or policies for the benefit of all.

They are mostly used by the government but other health related organisation could use their services as well.

The beauty of public health is that if you are one for the knack for the medical field but cannot stand the sight of blood or if you cannot stomach being around patient or simply are not interested in the patient care aspect of medicine, then you can consider public health.

Public health makes it possible to be in the medical line without dealing with patients if you and still helping them indirectly, behind the scene.

Why Do We Need Public Health Analyst?

The knowledge most of us have of health is limited to doctors and the happenings inside the four walls of a hospital.

The most important people to our health, as far as most of us are concerned, are the doctors and nurses and any other person directly involved with our health in the hospital.

But have you ever heard of prevention being better than cure? If you believe it, then you understand that the hospital, while we cannot deny its vast usefulness is nursing us back to health, is only one side of the coin.

There are many others working tirelessly to make sure we live in good health and not have to spend so much in curing illnesses and sicknesses.

They are constantly finding ways we can live more disease-free lives that would keep us away from the hospital.

Public health has been able to get us vaccines, family planning, safety laws, clean air, food and water policies and several health policies as individual or generally that is prevented numerous health challenges.

How to Build A Career As A Public Health Analyst

Education Required:

You might already be getting excited about public health analytics and wondering how you can become one. It is very simple but it entails going to school.

Unfortunately, it is skill you can acquire by apprenticeship. Everywhere you apply for a job would require at least a Bachelor’s degree from you.

So the first thing you need to do is apply for admission to a school for a Bachelor’s degree.

There are a number of courses you can study at the university that would help you in your way of becoming a public health analyst. You can also study health analytics, health information management and informatics, public health, biostatistics, or epidemiology.

Also, it would do you a lot of good if you add professional courses and certification.

Professional courses like data management, communication skills, data analysis or data analytics, statistics and any course that has to do with numbers would go a long way in preparing you for the job ahead as well as giving you an edge among all other candidates in a job application.

A good knowledge of statistical software, for example, SAS and SQL would also come in handy.

We all know that most employers would want to employ someone without experience. Luckily, there are some entry level positions that public health analysts can take advantage of. However, largely, employers would ask for at least, three years’ experience.

Some schools attach their students to hospitals and other medical centres while in school to gain first-hand knowledge before they graduate. But if you lacked that opportunity in your school, then you might want to volunteer your services during holidays or if you are out of school, you might have to sacrifice some years for internship.

This will increase your employability when you apply for a position.

The Skills You Need:

As mentioned earlier, you would need to be skilled in statistical software because you would need the knowledge of analyzing data in order to analyse your data properly.

Apart from the above, there are also certain skills that are must have for a good public health analyst.

Math or statistics skills: If you know you have issues with calculations and would rather be far from it, then you might want to steer clear of public health analytics. You would need to pass your data through mathematical analysis and your skills would be necessary here.

Communication skills: There is hardly any occupation that works independent of itself but public health most likely tops one of those that is always interacting with other fields.

You would need as a public health analyst to interact with doctors, policymakers, the government, research centres, medical centres and the general public.

With everybody that you would need to interact with, communication skills is important but dealing with professionals can even be handled with basic communication skills, interacting with the general public is a different ball game entirely and you would have to know how to speak their language to communicate with them.

Critical thinking: You would be analyzing information gathered, finding the most effective and efficient and also finding possible solutions to certain issues; surely it will be necessary to think critically. You would not have the luxury to think like a lay man, it would be necessary to hone your reasoning level.

Organisational skills: You would have at your disposal a large number of information and have to write a large volume of reports. The only way it would not overwhelm is if you have good organisational skills. This way, you would be able to keep track of your work without stress.

What Type of Public Health Analyst Do We Have?

There are two common types of public health analysts, although, largely, their work is intertwined and they practically work as one. They are;

The public health data analyst and the public health policy analysts

Based on the terms;

The public health data analyst deals mainly with data. The nature of their job mostly lies with numbers. They use raw data to search for trends and patterns in order to determine effectiveness and efficiency of the information gathered.

The public health policy analyst, however, mainly deals with data. The nature of their job mostly lies with policies. They would be the one to work closely with the government and policymakers in order to determine effectiveness and efficiency of policies as related to health.

We can see that being a public health analyst is an important job as well and we should be grateful to them. They are working behind the scene to make sure we live a disease-free life.

Author: Dr. Oche Joseph Otorkpa

Dr. Oche Joseph Otorkpa is a fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health United Kingdom, A Multiple Award winning innovation & Integrated Disease Surveillance & Response specialist with a Strong passion for the deployment of Innovative Solutions. He is the author of The Unseen Terrorist and writes regularly at Public Health Blog Public Health Blog View all posts by Dr. Oche Joseph Otorkpa