6 Traits that Mark a Successful Public Health Professional | Jun 02, 2016
Whether you just completed your master of public health degree or have been out of school and working in the field for years, you likely chose your career because of the impact that you can have on individuals and communities. Consequently, it is important to ensure that you develop the appropriate skills to be successful in your role, as the more you thrive in the workplace, the bigger the impact you will be able to have on those with whom you work.
The following are six traits that will help you to have a successful career as a public health professional:
When you work in the field of public health, you will rarely be entirely on your own. Whether you are working with coworkers on a project or spearheading an initiative in the community, public health, by its very nature, is a very inclusive workplace. As a result, the ability to “play well with others” is critical for a successful career in the field, especially if you are in a role where you work with groups of volunteers or community members.
While the ability to work as part of a team is important, employers will also appreciate your leadership skills. Even if you are not actively leading a project, these abilities can help you to encourage others to be the best that they can be, and keep everyone on track. These abilities are also important when it comes to your role in the community. Whether you are educating schools about the risks of concussions in high school athletics or discussing the spread of an infectious disease in your region, being able to lead is critical to being a public health professional. You will have a much greater impact on the community if you are able to convince people to trust your decisions and follow your lead.
Public health roles can vary a great deal across the field, but no matter what position you are in, you will likely be expected to solve problems quickly and effectively. Identifying health concerns in your community is important, but it is meaningless if you are unable to create solutions to address these challenges.
From sending emails to coworkers to explaining important health topics to community members, communication skills are critical when you work in public health. Even if you know everything there is to know about a particular topic, the point is moot if you are unable to effectively convey the information to others. And in the digital age, written communication has become perhaps just as critical as your ability to articulate ideas verbally.
You may have a great resume, the best education and well-developed workplace skills, but even the best laid plans sometimes go awry. That is why the ability to adapt is so important. When you are working with large populations of people, it is difficult to predict and prepare for every variable. By being able to adapt quickly, you can ensure the best possible outcome in most any situation, even when everything seems to be going wrong.
Ultimately, what will help you to excel in the workplace is your passion for your job. According to Forbes contributor and recruiting firm CEO Ken Sundheim, passion is one of the top traits of an ideal employee. Those who enjoy the journey are more likely to persevere while pursuing goals, rather than becoming frustrated and burnt out. Your coworkers, managers and those you work with will benefit from your enthusiasm about and dedication to your work.