08 FYi • Career


Promoting healthy lifestyles and protecting people’s wellbeing are at the heart of a career in public health


S A DOCTOR you are used to caring for patients on an individual basis – but what about a specialty that lets you make an even bigger impact by protecting the health of entire populations?

Public health offers the chance to positively

influence the health of large numbers of patients by doing everything from promoting healthy behaviours to tackling the health effects of climate change across the country. An estimated 40,000 people work in core public health roles across the UK, but this number rockets to as high as 20 million when taking into account the wider workforce such as dental teams, pharmacists, midwives,

district nurses and beyond. It is a formidable number, yet there are still

considerable health challenges to be tackled. There are many opportunities for those seeking a career as a public health specialist or consultant.

Entry and training Doctors interested in a career in public health normally apply for specialty training after completion of their two-year foundation training. This is a competitive process with an average of 500-600 eligible applicants annually for 70-80 places. NHS Health Careers offers tips for getting

into training which include joining the Faculty of Public Health (FPH), seeking work experience at a local public health organisation and attending conferences on public health. Trainee doctors are also encouraged to undertake a rotation in public health or to use study leave to undertake a taster programme. Specialty training normally lasts five years,

culminating in the award of a certificate of completion of training (CCT) in public health medicine. The pathway is divided into two

phases. In phase 1, trainees gain public health knowledge and core skills and obtain the part A and part B exams. In phase 2, trainees have the option to select special interests and take on increasing levels of responsibility. It is also at this point when trainees can apply for time to undertake a PhD, two years of which may count towards a CCT. Movement between phases is dependent both on exam success and achievement of learning outcomes. The FPH sets out the three key domains of public health practice which relate to: • health improvement – e.g. inequalities, education, housing and behaviours

• improving services – e.g. audit and evaluation, service planning and clinical governance

• health protection – e.g. infectious diseases, emergency response and environmental health hazards.

In addition, they detail nine key areas which are covered in training. These include:

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