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Public Health?

Definition

Public health is the protection and improvement of the health of groups and populations. Public health interventions have the potential to improve the lives of thousands of people.

Training in Public Health is normally achieved by completing a run-through Speciality training scheme. This is five years (ST1 – ST5).

Medical Similarities

Medics will be familiar with the foundations of public health, which are the prevention of illness, promotion of health and well-being, reliance on robust evidence and the assurance of high quality, effective health care services. For many doctors, a clinical career leads them to public health – often through research, policy or national level work. In addition to medical knowledge, public health specialists will learn a diverse range of new disciplines, such as politics, law, history, management, sociology, and psychology to name a few!

Pay

Medical trainees are on the NHS pay scale in line with other speciality trainees. Registrars who start public health trainees at a higher grade than ST1 may receive pay protection. On-call work attracts a banding according the shift pattern.

Hours

40-48 hours a week.

Lifestyle

The majority of your work is completed during a 9 to 5 working day. During training there are on-call commitments, this involves providing telephone advice as part of a local health protection service, which means that these duties are delivered from home. The arrangements for on-call varies between deaneries. In some locations trainees are on-call overnight.

Many people involved in public health work abroad, either as part of their training, or as a consultant.

Attributes

Primary medical degree – e.g MBBS, BMChB
Foundation competencies
It is possible to be entered onto the specialist register by demonstrating competencies via a portfolio.

Getting ahead

Master’s in Public Health – this qualification is incorporated into the training programme, so it is not by any means necessary to have this prior to joining the scheme. However, many doctors undertake an MPH prior to the scheme in order to learn more about public health or to develop public health skills within a different speciality.

Experience in teaching, research, public policy, health advocacy and working abroad are advantages.

Further Info

• Public Healthy – a useful website developed by a previous public health registrar
• PHORCaST (Public Health Online Resource for Careers, Skills and Training) – Advice and resources on careers in public health
• The Faculty of Public Health – The professional body for UK public health specialists

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