The mission of the Florida State University Masters of Public Health program is to understand and enhance the health status of populations by providing policy-oriented, multidisciplinary training of future public health professionals in the core concepts, skills, tools and knowledge of health policy and practice, and to conduct and disseminate research that leads to improved health status.
Why Study Public Health?
The focus of Public Health is the health of the community. The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." As opposed to clinical medicine, which focuses on individual patients, public health focuses on improving the health of populations. Public health professionals promote access to quality health care, improved health behaviors, use of preventive measures, and risk-reducing environments to
address health issues of common concern to members of society. Public health is interdisciplinary, based in science, inherently political, demanding of social justice, focused on prevention, and addresses an ever-expanding agenda of improvements and reform.
According to Health, United States (2006), an annual report put out by the National Center for Health Statistics:
- The United States spends more on health per capita than any other country, and health spending continues to increase rapidly. In 2004, national health care expenditures in the United States totaled $1.9 trillion, a 7.9% increase from 2003.
- Many people under age 65, particularly those with low incomes, do not have health insurance coverage consistently throughout the year. In 2004, about 20% of people under age 65 reported that they had been uninsured for at least part of the 12 months prior to their interview.
- Persons living in poverty are considerably more likely to be in fair or poor health and to have disabling conditions, and less likely to have used many types of health care than those with incomes of 200% of the poverty line or higher. Significant racial and ethnic disparities remain across a wide range of health measures.
- Public health is responsible for 25 of the 30 years of improved life expectancy since 1900. Only 5 years are attributable to medical care. Of the 5 due to medical care, 3.5 years are due to medical treatments. The other 1.5 years are due to clinical preventive services such as immunization and screening.
The Master’s of Public Health program at FSU is designed to train future public health professionals and provide them with the tools to solve these problems. Students are given a general set of skills in epidemiology, health behaviors, public policy, economics, statistics and qualitative analytic skills.
The main focus of the program at Florida State is health care politics and policy analysis. Graduates of the program are well suited to tackle the new challenges arising in the field of public health and will be instrumental in designing and implementing necessary changes, both in the U.S. and abroad, to ensure a healthy future for the population.