One Degree, Many Paths
It truly is a remarkable time to earn a degree in public health. Phrases like social distancing and community spread are now commonplace in conversation, and the world has experienced first hand the impact of prevention-focused measures.
Current events have emphasized the importance of public health and have made familiar the names of our public health leaders. As we move forward, it will be fascinating to study the world’s response, analyzing what we did well and how we can improve for the future. Taylor Tucker, senior public health major
Public health is a field that intersects with a broad spectrum of professions. Only 20% of a person’s overall health is affected by direct medical services, like doctor visits and treatments. The remaining 80% is shaped by social and environmental factors. No matter what career path you choose to pursue, a degree in public health will equip you with a solid foundation to answer your calling to serve individuals, families, communities and populations.
Objectives and Goals
We live in an age when knowledge and technology are changing at a rapid pace, and because of this, public health professionals require a broad education that emphasizes problem solving, critical thinking, interdisciplinary teamwork and strong communication skills. Samford's cutting-edge curriculum and diverse faculty prepare graduates for a career in service to humanity.
Our public health degree will provide you the opportunities to:
- Explore both quantitative and qualitative aspects of public health at all levels of analysis
- Study issues and concerns that impacts the health and well-being of populations and communities, like cardiovascular disease, suicide, obesity, environmental health and more
- Confront complex health issues from a prevention- and population-based approach
- Understand how culture impacts health, through topics like behavior, health communication, program management and cultural competence
Is this Program for Me?
Public health is a great fit for students who are looking for a foundation in community and population health on which they can build their careers. The program will enhance one’s natural critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills. Public health students tend to enjoy research, data and statistics as these factors can help reveal the answers to unknown questions relating to health and well-being. By studying public health, students will be challenged to look beyond the symptoms that bring individuals into a clinic, and instead, identify and improve health from the source—where people live, work, eat, sleep, learn and play.
What Makes Us Different?
A Personalized Degree
We often say public health is one degree with many paths for the careers in public health are diverse and dynamic. Samford allows students to personalize their degree—through elective courses, research projects and internship experiences—to expose them to a range of professions within the industry and to align their education with their future career goals.
Samford’s public health major utilizes the expertise of many disciplines within the School of Public Health, including healthcare administration and health information management. This collaborative nature provides a diversity of discussion, faculty expertise and resources.
In addition, the School of Public Health is one of four schools that comprise Samford’s College of Health Sciences, and through interprofessional education, students are empowered to learn alongside their peers in a variety of programs. This commitment reflects today's team-based approach to patient care, and ensures that students learn about, from and with the individuals who will one day be their colleagues.
Faith and Health
Distinct in its Christian mission, Samford encourages public health majors to consider the needs of the whole person, including mind, body and spirit. Faith plays an important role in public health, and students are able to study this interaction and the outcomes it displays in the lives of communities and individuals. At Samford, we believe that those who study public health are answering a calling to serve others, and faculty seek to not only mentor students professionally but personally and spiritually as well.
By declaring public health as a major, students become eligible to apply for fast-track programs offered by Samford University, enabling them to complete two degrees just five years.
As a part of the public health curriculum, students are required to complete a semester-long internship. Our students have completed this integrative experience with organizations here in Birmingham and across the country, including:
- Coosa Riverkeeper
- Jefferson County Department of Health
- Susan G. Komen Foundation
- Uganda Village Project
- Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA)
- 410 Bridge
- Dialysis Clinic Incorporated/New Mexico Donor Services
- Children’s Hope
- Saving Our Black Youths
Students do have the option to complete a research project in lieu of an internship. To date, students have completed projects with titles that include:
- Analysis of Food Insecurity Survey for Samford University
- Medical Mistrust in the Hispanic Community as it Relates to Health Care Use
- Needle Exchange Programs: Abstinence is not the only option to combat the opioid crisis
Our public health major prepares graduates for the diverse career opportunities in the field of public health, including areas like:
- Government (local, state and federal health agencies)
- Hospitals and health systems
- Nonprofit health organizations
- Private sector health organization
- International or domestic missions
Graduate or Professional Schools
While graduates of this program are prepared to immediately enter the workforce, some choose to continue their education and earn a graduate or professional degree.
Majoring in public health is an excellent pathway for students considering a career in medicine as the program provides a foundation in community health that creates a unique approach to individual medicine.
Throughout the interview process for medical school, I found the material I learned in my public health classes extremely beneficial. The information covered challenged me to think through underlying prejudices and inequalities that contribute to health care in a big way. Even in the first few days of medical school, we were introduced to some of the same material that we covered in many of the public health classes that are offered at Samford.Haley Harrington '17
Accolades & Alumni
97% of Samford's undergraduate alumni are working or in further study within six months of graduation(2019)
While the number of alumni for this relatively new program is small, Samford’s public health alumni have graduates and begun careers with:
- Peace Corps
- AmeriCorps VISTA
- Jefferson County Department of Health
- Norwood Clinic, Inc.
- ProChem Water Inc.
- Indianapolis Public Schools
Our graduates have also continued their education by earning degrees in medicine, environmental science, public health and more.