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What is Public Health?

We identify the causes of disease and disability, and we implement large-scale solutions. Public health focuses on improving and protecting community health and well-being, with an emphasis on prevention among large groups of people. The goal is to improve health outcomes for populations. Those with public health degrees keep communities healthy through child wellness, disease prevention, education, disaster relief, clean water, access to healthcare, and much more.

Learn more from the APHA

Dean Donna Arnett - What is Public Health?

Learn more about Dean Arnett

What is the Impact of Public Health?

In the medical field, clinicians treat diseases and injuries one patient at a time, but only a small amount of what affects our health happens in the doctor’s office. In public health, researchers, practitioners, and educators prevent disease and injury at the community and population level. We identify the causes of disease and disability, and we implement large-scale solutions. In fact, our health is mostly determined by the environments in which we live, learn, work, and play. Public health is working together to make sure our communities are safe, prevent disease and injury, and give everyone the opportunity for good health.

Learn more from the ASPPH

What can I do in Public Health?

The role of public health is to prevent, promote, and to protect populations. What one public health professional does will differ from another’s day-to-day tasks. However, all public health professionals have a common objective: to ensure that healthcare is accessible to all segments of society. They work to limit health disparities and promote healthcare equity, quality, and accessibility for all. Here are some examples of what public health professionals will tackle on a daily basis:

Prevent

  • Examine the dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure.
  • Develop strategies to stop bullying in schools.
  • Develop reproductive health programs to prevent infant mortality and disease.
  • Research potential causes to prevent cancer.
     

Protect

  • Develop vaccines for disease.
  • Implement safety standards in organizations to protect workers.
  • Ensure distant communities have access to quality healthcare and services.
  • Develop nutrition programs in schools to ensure children eat healthy.
     

Promote

  • Promote sustainable habits to protect the greater environment.
  • Educate people about the effects of drugs and alcohol to prevent addiction.
  • Policies and health services interventions to address mental health and substance abuse

Learn more from the CDC

Why Careers in Public Health?

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the globe, the vocabulary of public health has become commonplace. We speak every day about flattening curves, tracing contacts, and modeling hospital capacity. We see the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on vulnerable segments of our society—including people of color, older people, and immigrants.

Although we aren’t sure when or how the pandemic will end, we understand that it will take a new generation of health champions to lead us to that point and into a changed world. Along with rapid population growth, a warming climate, and increased health needs arising, the world needs more individuals who can focus on ensuring good health and well-being for all people.

With a public health degree, you could work for:

Learn more about public health careers

Why Public Health in Kentucky?

In 2004, the University of Kentucky established the College of Public Health to develop transformative solutions to health challenges through teaching, research and service efforts. Located in Lexington, Kentucky, we take seriously our public health responsibility to all communities and individuals in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond. 

Our state is at the epicenter in some of the major public health challenges in the areas of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, among others. With that in mind, we are dedicated to transforming and assisting in the creation of a healthier community, state, and world - for everyone. At the UK College of Public Health, we are committed to building health champions in Kentucky and beyond.

Read our Strategic Plan