Job Profile: Disease Prevention Manager

The World Health Organization reports that 80 percent of chronic diseases like diabetes and arthritis are preventable. Vaccinations can help protect against a plethora of acute diseases, such as diphtheria, meningitis, and hepatitis B. Even the world’s #1 killer, coronary artery disease (CAD), that claims around 7.4 million lives annually can be prevented with weight control and good lifestyle choices. Maximizing citizens’ chances of living long, productive lives without ill health is the goal of disease prevention managers. They design health promotion efforts that teach people to exercise, plan balanced diets, curb smoking, get immunized, practice safe sex, and more. As skilled, MPH-trained leaders, disease prevention managers coordinate public health programs to encourage activities that reduce risk of illness.

Salary

Survey statistics on Salary.com conclude that America’s public health directors, including disease prevention managers, earn a median annual salary of $124,184. This equates to a median hourly wage of $60, or $4,776 per biweekly paycheck. Two top-paying cities for disease prevention managers are Richmond and Queens with averages at $152,894 and $143,762 respectively. Disease prevention managers claim $178,282 for total compensation with benefits included.

Beginning Salary

Newly promoted disease prevention managers would likely land in the bottom 10th percentile of the bell curve with income around $81,816 per year. Hires with a Master of Public Health (MPH) fare better with a market low salary of $116,902. However, disease prevention managers have excellent salary growth potential to surpass a base salary of $176.185. Disease prevention managers who advance as top community health executives can bring home up to $309,078.

Key Responsibilities

Disease prevention managers hold leadership over the creation, direction, and review of programs that advocate for healthy behaviors that prevent premature death. They’ll begin by conducting behavioral change research to determine their community’s needs for health education. Next, disease prevention managers strategically plan the advocacy campaign’s policy standards, budgeting, and measureable objectives. They hire, train, and lead public health staff to carry out programming for individuals, groups, or whole communities. Disease prevention managers have various other administrative tasks, including writing grant proposals, analyzing performance metrics, reporting to community stakeholders, marketing health services, testing compliance with federal/local regulations, and troubleshooting operational issues.

Necessary Skills

Succeeding in the public health arena will exceptional verbal and written communication skills to collaborate with other practitioners on disease prevention programs. Strong work ethic and leadership ability is essential to motivate staff for working toward programming goals. Disease prevention managers need critical thinking and problem-solving skills to proactively address any issues hindering community-based efforts. Analytical and math skills will help disease prevention managers handle the financial side of funding their health initiatives. Computer proficiency is critical for managers to connect with clients via email and social media as well as design creative multimedia presentations. Disease prevention managers should also have organizational, team-building, interpersonal, and time management skills.

Degree and Education Requirements

Landing the title of disease prevention manager typically will require advanced training in a CEPH-accredited graduate school. Most begin with a bachelor’s degree in public health, health science, biology, psychology, health education, or similar majors. Taking courses directly related to infectious diseases, immunology, pathophysiology, and health promotion is suggested. Some schools offer this specialization, such as the University of Southern California’s B.S. in Health Promotion & Disease Prevention. Employers then expect disease prevention managers to have obtained a Master of Public Health (MPH), or closely related degree like the Master of Health Administration (MHA). Working further for a Ph.D. or Doctor of Public Health is voluntary unless you’ll be teaching disease prevention.

Pros and Cons of the Position

Spending your days finding ways to thwart disease sounds wholly rewarding, but it’s important you’re aware of the potential drawbacks. For example, disease prevention managers carry above-average stress to handle the pressures of overseeing public health initiatives. Working beyond the typical 9-to-5 is common since programs are often scheduled for clients’ convenience in evenings and on weekends. Disease prevention managers need to afford years of higher education for an MPH or MHA, so loan debt is possible. Dealing with individuals who don’t wish to change their unhealthy behaviors could cause frustration too. However, disease prevention managers are extremely well-paid with benefits and intrinsic rewards. A positive job outlook means competing for open positions won’t be as fierce. Disease prevention managers can tailor their work for specific populations like children, minorities, or the elderly. Continually searching for new strategies to encourage healthy changes can be exciting for the extroverted.

Getting Started

Earning a public health degree is only a small slice of the career preparation needed by disease prevention managers. Actual hands-on community experience is important for your resume, so CEPH guidelines require field practicum. Search for internships with agencies like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Chronic Disease Research Institute (CDRI). The Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health also has over 2,200 fellows in diverse specialties, including Applied Epidemiology. At graduation, consider getting Certified in Public Health (CPH) for marketability. This credential requires having five years of work experience and passing a 200-question exam with a 70 percent or higher. Some managers could also benefit from the Community Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential.

Future Outlook

Harrowing disease statistics from the WHO show that nearly 6 million people die from tobacco and 1.5 million deaths are attributed to diabetes each year. Keeping our world’s citizens aware of the healthy behaviors that can reduce risk for preventable diseases is essential. Demand for preventative public health is growing to reverse the obesity epidemic and protect aging baby boomers from disease risk. The BLS predicts that overall employment in health education will experience faster-than-average growth by 13 percent through 2024 for 15,600 U.S. jobs. Certified disease prevention managers with an MPH will find the best prospects in government-funded public health departments, hospitals, ambulatory services, nonprofit organizations, colleges, and skilled nursing facilities.

Disease prevention managers are highly trained public health directors who strive for optimal community wellness by organizing initiatives that discourage risky health choices. They supervise staff for developing evidence-based intervention plans that eliminate disparities and reduce chances of morbidity. Preventing disease for people to live productively beyond the average life expectancy of 78.74 years in America is a noble goal. Becoming a disease prevention manager is a satisfying, profitable career for health nuts to share their enthusiasm and inspire behavioral change in diverse populations.

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