People often ask "How do I get a job at a health district?".
A well-rounded health district has a staff with a wide variety of
backgrounds. For example, among the 51 employees at the Wood County Health
District, one is a nurse practitioner, 16 are registered nurses and 11 are
registered sanitarians, one of whom is the Health Commissioner. There are two
nutritionists, one health educator, one epidemiologist, a social worker, a diet
technician, and an accountant. Three home health aides and twelve specialized
aides, secretaries and clerks round out the staff. Some staff members are cross
trained in more than one discipline.
Students, in particular, ask what professional preparation they need for work in public health. Registered sanitarians complete a baccalaureate program taking at least 30 semester units of science courses in biology, chemistry, physics, geology or mathematics. They obtain two years experience as a sanitarian-in-training and pass the Environmental Health Proficiency Examination to be registered in Ohio.
Requirements for nurses includes graduation from an accredited nursing program and registration with the Ohio Board of Nursing. Experience in pediatrics is a plus.
The educational requirements for health educators are more flexible, a minimum of a baccalaureate degree is desirable, preferably in a field related to health, education and community activities. There are no registration or licensure requirements, but certifications are available in a variety of fields.
Some positions in public health require advanced education, in particular, medical directors, nurse practitioners, and health commissioners. At least seven Wood County Health District staff members have advanced degrees, the most common being the Masters in Public Health. The commissioner has a Masters in Environmental Health.
When asked, what do you do in public health? We visit homes, we care for people, we help people care for themselves. We protect the environment at the point where people and the environment meet. We license and inspect private sewage systems and private wells so that people have safe drinking water. We inspect food service operations to prevent food poisoning. We prevent disease by giving shots, investigating communicable disease cases, and managing animal bite cases. We help people learn what they need to know to prevent illness and injury and to live a longer, healthier life. We like our work.