Public Health Studies
Public health seeks to protect and promote the health of communities. It addresses some of the greatest global challenges of our time: infectious diseases including AIDS and avian flu, chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes, as well as violence and injury. Public health takes a proactive, preventive approach to health and emphasizes the pursuit of health equity.
The Public Health Studies program at Elon prepares students with the knowledge and skills to address the public health challenges of the 21st century. Majors examine health and illness as complex biological, behavioral, social, political and economic phenomena. Students learn how to use population health data to inform interventions that empower communities and promote healthier lifestyles and environments both domestically and internationally. As a result, students are prepared to enter the workplace in public health settings and/or continue their education in the field of public health or related fields.
The Elon PHS Program allowed me to combine my passion for helping people and my interest in sciences. The PHS department is not only research-oriented, but it also ensures practical application of interventions. Through the program, I gained necessary skills to pursue a pre-doctoral fellowship and to enter a research intensive graduate program.
Course of study
The public health major prepares students with a strong grounding in the discipline of public health with 28 hours of core courses. Additionally, students take 16 hours within one of two interdisciplinary focal areas: socio-cultural context of health or mathematical and biological aspects of health and illness, as well as an elective course. The inclusion of interdisciplinary coursework through the focal areas gives many students enough flexibility to double major in a complementary discipline.
The PHS program prepared me to enter a doctoral program to pursue a career as a researcher. Through classes and hands-on work with at-risk communities, I became well versed in the broader social context of health problems. After completing the PHS program, I am better able to develop research questions that, if addressed, may improve the lives of often marginalized populations.
Students have multiple opportunities to get real-world public health experience. Two of the core courses, “Introduction to Public Health” and “Research Methods in Public Health,” involve a field-based project where students address a local public health issue. Additionally, the practicum gives students three weeks of full-time experience in a public health organization during winter or summer term.
The supportive creativity of the public health department is a key aspect of my Elon experience. First attracted to the field to pursue non-profit work, I explored global health and macro level issues in my courses. When my interests shifted to patient-level work, the PHS department encouraged me to consider the interconnectivity of health topics. As I pursue a graduate degree in pediatric speech therapy, I’m so grateful for my background in public health and feel well prepared and excited to serve my future community.
The outlook for careers in public health is strong and continues to expand. Majors are prepared to enter the workforce in local, state, national or international public health organizations, or to continue on to graduate study in public health or a related discipline.
As a PHS major at Elon, my understanding of ‘health’ has been challenged and changed. I have developed a comprehensive understanding of health care. I have realized the incredible impact and value of preventative, holistic approaches to health, as well as their increasingly important role in today’s world. My experiences as a PHS major have motivated me to explore health in rural India through a Post-Graduate Fellowship, and equipped me to serve people better as I pursue a career as a physician assistant.