Taking on a leadership role in public health requires physicians to work across disciplines, departments, and organizations. They must develop their ability to work in systems and strategies. This requires a shift in mindset, as physicians are accustomed to treating individuals. Multi-sectoral collaboration, or “meta-leadership,” has become a buzzword in the public health world. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the roles that physicians have in public health.
A physician’s career in public health can be long or short. In fact, the average career in this field lasts about 15 years. The average career span for physicians in public health is about fifteen years, although some choose to enter the field later in life. But even with the growing complexity of the field, physicians play a vital role in helping to make our society healthier. In fact, there is a need for at least 20,000 physicians in the United States each year. If we divide the number of physicians by the average length of time for career advancement in public health, we get approximately 1,350 needed per year.
A physician’s civic mindedness may be enhanced by being from underrepresented communities or by working in an academic environment. Physicians who teach medical students may have an extra incentive to become active in public health. Rural physicians may be more involved in community projects and organizations. It is important to remember that the role of a physician in public health is often more broad than many people would think. So, the next time you visit a doctor’s office, be sure to ask him or her how they feel about the role of a physician in public health.