The Public Health Minor
Do you find yourself in a downright frenzy as you contemplate a vast array of options on what major and/or minor to pursue in college? The University of Minnesota has many highly ranked programs for you to choose from. Let me give you an insight into one of them, the Public Health minor; one of the main reasons I decided to come to the U as it would be an ideal intersection with my major in the life sciences (neuroscience).
The University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health (UMN SPH) is ranked 8th in the nation, with divisions in epidemiology & community health, environmental health sciences, biostatistics and health policy & management. Faculty and researchers are constantly producing publications on findings and innovations in crucial contemporary areas of concern in public health. For example, the New York Times published an article just last week in light of the recent Zika virus outbreak and perspectives to its eradication and prevention, written by Dr Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) which is a research center within UMN SPH. Other ongoing research covers topics like health care home savings, maternal mental health screenings, foam technology for hip injury and environmental pollutants in rural India.
The diversity of the research topics I cited above shows that you don’t have to be a pre-med or life sciences major in order to minor in public health; people from diverse backgrounds with expertise as diverse as finance & management, engineering, biophysics, sociology and more can incorporate public health concepts to make a tangible impact on society with their work. The structure of the minor at UMN ensures that you get a broad understanding of the field and inter-disciplinary nature through courses such as epidemiology, sociology, community health and global environmental health. The faculty are very approachable and welcome discussions, insights and may also consider you to work with them on a research project if you are interested.
I personally have enjoyed the courses I have taken so far in epidemiology, personal and community health and drug abuse. Because my neuroscience major links closely with health and I am interested in the big-picture application of biomedical research, I have used an applied, public health interest to approach my research and career exploration. During freshman and sophomore years I was involved in a lab that did research on adolescent drug abuse and brain development. Through contacts given to me by my epidemiology professor, I was able to apply and secure an undergraduate research grant for a project on discretionary calories and obesity. I also volunteered as a community health educator for a lead-poisoning prevention agency last summer, and all these experiences helped me decide that I was interested in biomedical/public health research rather than practice in the long run.
So here are the links for more info on the minor and the school of public health. Let me know if you have any questions, or you can contact the school directly!