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A career in public health can mean a lot of different things; public health professionals analyze and develop programs that improve or protect the health of people in all corners of the globe.

There has been an increased focus on international health, which generally means the health of people living in low-income or developing countries, as part of the public health equation because global health falls under the public health umbrella.

This holistic approach has lead to the creation of new jobs. As a way to prepare those who are interested in a global health career, many universities now offer global health degrees, which focus on understanding the health of populations in a global context and making worldwide improvements.

Arizona State University began offering a global health degree program about six years ago. The first graduate from their program, Mackenzie Cotlow, has since then used what she learned in the classroom in the context of improving global health.

After graduating, Cotlow started working with Doctors Without Borders in South Africa as a fundraising consultant. She helps inform the public about what the organization does and works to raise the funds necessary for its work to continue to touch the lives of those it helps.

Like many global health degrees, part of Cotlow’s major requirements was studying and working abroad, which she fulfilled in New Zealand and Fiji.

When students are given the chance to widen their worldview by gaining first-hand experience with how people in their academic or career field tackle similar issues, they can expand the collective action toward accomplishing the same goals.

Global health degrees can prepare students for a vast variety of career paths. The global health sector includes international development, social justice and health care professionals.

Emmanuel Kamanzi worked in Rwanda as a program officer for Partners In Health (PIH) for more than five years.

According to PIH, when asked what advice he has for those considering a profession in global health, he said, “Building health care platforms that deliver high-quality care to the most poor and vulnerable communities requires a collaborative workforce that can build partnerships…[and this] requires a deep understanding of the local context and extensive assessment of financial, social and political perspectives.”

Students and professionals in the global health field must continue to work to understand the needs of the communities they are working in and for.

Often solutions or programs that work within one community can be adapted for many other communities, but they must be tailored to the demands present in each unique community. That is why global health work relies on an in-depth understanding of the people being served.

As global health gains a larger presence in the public health sector, global health degrees come with excellent job perspectives and a way to learn the tools that can make for an incredible global health professional and a step toward accomplishing the life mission of improving health worldwide.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: Explore Health Careers, PIH, Arizona State University
Photo: Flickr