Research Article

What do Physicians do with their Public Health Degrees?

Author: Jessica L Jones

Introduction: The reasons physicians decide to pursue formal training in Public Health (PH) are varied and often uniquely personal. The Institute of Medicine has emphasized the importance of training medical providers in PH. Few studies have examined the impact of obtaining a public health degree on physician careers. The purpose of this investigation is to identify reasons physicians pursue a PH degree. Methods: This qualitative key informant interview study (2016‐2017) included individuals from Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) group on Public Health and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) with a medical degree and a PH degree. Results: After interviewing 15 individuals (participation rate 42%), we analyzed the data to identify patterns in behaviors and attitudes. We found that positive mentors are very influential. A prominent reason of attaining a PH degree was to expanded perspective on health care. Conclusion: Overall, a PH degree can have a powerfully positive impact on a physician’s career, influencing the character and caliber of the care delivered. This investigation can help individuals considering, or advising those who might consider the pursuit of PH education.