Whether you are a student, a practitioner or in specialty training, you may have some questions about what it takes to become a Public Health specialist. Below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about a public health career. If your question isn’t answered here, you can email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public health is defined by the Faculty of Public Health as 'the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of society'. There is a helpful video explaining this here.
There are many different types of public health careers in the UK. Whichever area of public health you choose to work in, you’ll be making a difference to people’s health and wellbeing in some way. There are all sorts of career opportunities from entry-level roles right up to senior positions. Explore the range of public health roles here.
Given the breadth of areas public health specialists can work in, the required qualifications for public health roles can vary and are dependent on the type of role and level. We recommend reading the person specification for each level of training in advance, so you know what is required and you can begin to work towards gaining the essential criteria.
In the UK, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is charged with oversight of the public health workforce, with the four statutory education bodies for the component parts of the UK (such as Health Education England) and the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) supporting workforce development. The Faculty of Public Health is responsible for overseeing the quality of training and professional development of public health consultants in the UK. It sets and maintains the professional standards in the discipline.
There are three main registers for public health specialists; the General Medical Council (GMC) for medically trained applicants; the General Dental Council (GDC) for applicants trained in dental public health; and the UK Public Health Register (UKPHR) for applicants from multi-disciplinary background.
There are two routes to specialist registration:
Registration through public health speciality training: There is a national recruitment process held once a year. This is open to both those from a medical and a non-medical background and is generally highly competitive. It is usually a five-year programme but if the applicant has already completed a Masters in Public Health (MPH) it can be shortened to four years. Information on eligibility criteria and recruitment process can be found here. The following video gives an overview of the specialty training scheme. You can find more information on what it means to work as a specialist in public health in this booklet. If you have any questions about specialty training in public health email: email@example.com. For ALL enquiries about the recruitment and selection process email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Specialist registration through the portfolio route: health professionals (both medical and from other backgrounds) can submit portfolios for specialist accreditation to the relevant regulator (GMC or UKPHR). The process involves compiling a detailed portfolio of your relevant learning and experience instead of undertaking the formal training programme route described above. Portfolios are assessed and if successful, the applicants are placed on the appropriate specialist register and allowed to work at specialist/consultant level. Details can be found here: UK Public Health Register – 2. Specialist Registration by Portfolio Assessment (ukphr.org)
FPH offers the Public Health Textbook, an online resource covering all the public health skills and competencies. It has been organised in relation to the Faculty of Public Health Diplomate examination (DFPH) syllabus. Although the textbook is particularly helpful for Paper I of the exam, it is also of benefit for anyone who is interested in expanding their public health knowledge.
Twitter accounts to follow for topical public health issues: Faculty of Public Health @FPH, Kevin Fenton @ProfKevinFenton, Professor Chris Whitty @CMO_England