The investigation of diseases and public health problems to prevent their spreading or reoccurrence. Epidemiologists practice this specialty by researching health issues; conducting interviews and surveys about maternal and child health, occupational health, oral health, and environmental health; taking samples of bodily fluids to understand the cause of diseases, both chronic and infectious; and suggesting solutions to mitigate health problems. They also coordinate with government agencies, private corporations and personnel organizations about issues affecting the health of the community.
To be an epidemiologist, one should either have a bachelor’s degree in sociology or any related course or a master’s or doctorate degree in epidemiology. Psychology, biostatistics, genetics, biochemistry, physiology, and health administration experience can also be very beneficial. Because epidemiologists need to interpret data, they should have working knowledge of mathematics, especially in the areas of statistics and probability.
Epidemiologists not only investigate the causes of epidemics but also measure their extent and severity. By discovering causes in a certain population or geographical location, they can identify the likelihood of other occurrences. They also make recommendations for public health policy and make their findings known to the health practitioners, policymakers, and the public to provide solutions and prevent future outbreaks.
Epidemiologists can be found in various fields. Epidemiologists who work in private practice are commonly found in health insurance or pharmaceutical companies. Others who work in nonprofit organizations often do public advocacy work. Epidemiologists may also work at private research facilities and universities, and they can become consultants for both private and public agencies. Additionally, some epidemiologists work for government law enforcement agencies to develop contingency plans.