Public health administrators mainly focus on community-wide health promotion and disease prevention. As the name suggests, the job requires dual roles. PHAs help run the organizations that distribute information about health and improve the welfare of the community at large! Most of them are employed by government health organizations, while others work for non-profit educational institutions and organizations. They educate members and assess community health issues and help prevent any harmful epidemics or breakouts.
A Public Health Administrator is responsible to execute community outreach programs to ensure people are aware of dangers such as chronic problems, lead poisoning or sexually transmitted diseases. The job role requires the management skills of a CEO - create budgets, organize the office, hire staff and purchase necessary equipment. Fundraising and writing grant proposals take more of the administrator’s time while improving the service in spite of budget cuts!
Reports need to be created for when a new health-related event or trend occurs and how it affects the community. A public health administrator must ensure that a balance is maintained, keeping in mind limited budgets in order to provide basic health care. Decision making skills are also mandatory as you will be facing contradictory demands and information throughout your work. Another characteristics that is required for this role is self-confidence as you may be called upon to defend decisions to the press or public officials. You are also required to attend community events regularly. Work is usually a 5-6 days in a week schedule, but most public health administrators end up working on a 24/7 basis during periods of crisis!
Start by choosing the area in public health that is interesting to you. Some categories to choose from are biostatistics, behavioral science, epidemiology, environmental health science, nutrition, international health and occupational safety.
Getting a degree
Choosing the right degree you want to complete is the next step. A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification required to become a Public Health Administrator. However, a Master’s degree in the related field has become standard for such a role. Look for schools that offer a Bachelor of Science in Public Health or a Master of Public Health or a Master of Science in Public Health while choosing a program.
Ensure that the educational institute you choose to attend is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. This gives you an easier access to getting hired as most employers prefer to hire degree holders from accredited schools where training is imparted under nationally established standards.
Lastly, it is always recommended to keep developing your skills continuously. Becoming and being a Public Health Administrator requires multiple skill sets. This role requires experience in your area of specialty and the public health sector. Other skills such as human resource management, organizational skills, experience in proposal and grant writing, good knowledge in the current affairs and the ability to publicly comment on any upcoming events or emergencies, will help you in becoming a Public Health Administrator!