Have you ever wondered who creates public health care policies? Do you know that a number of researchers and scientists are behind these studies? A number of public health/health protection practitioners are involved in designing and studying health and the factors affecting it. If you are interested in analyzing public health and can willingly spend hours in research then a career in Epidemiology is a good option. Read on to find out more about this career.
Epidemiologists research and study the distribution, patterns, and causes of diseases and other health-related conditions over a geographic region or among communities. As an Epidemiologist, you would be involved in analyzing and identifying health issues prevalent in a particular area and studying how these can be eliminated from a community.
Why Become an Epidemiology?
Epidemiologists research and study all the factors that influence and determine the presence of diseases or disorders in a particular area calculated over a period of time. Epidemiologists examine and identify various methods to study how a specific area is affected by a particular disease, what are the factors influencing the spreading of the disease, how these could be controlled and what health measures could be taken to control them in the future.
What is Epidemiology and why do you need to study it?
Epidemiology is all about studying and analyzing the distribution, patterns, and causes of health and disease conditions. These studies are conducted to identify the relationship between their sources and outcomes. The main objective of this study is to provide solutions and applicable measures to prevent and control the occurrence of diseases in specific areas. The study is usually focused to search the root causes and factors that influence the spread of communicable and non-communicable diseases, patterns behind substance abuse, and other health-related components.
What will you do as an Epidemiologist?
As an Epidemiologist you would collect and analyze data to examine the health issues prevalent in a particular area of the population; what are the common/re-occurring diseases; how many people are prone to diseases; what measures are taken to control the disease and so on.
For instance, As an Epidemiologist, you might be involved in collecting and analyzing demographic data to understand the people who are at the highest risk for a particular disease like cancer. You would study patterns and population trends to identify how effective treatments and measures can be taken to control the diseases.
As an Epidemiologist, you would be involved in studying and analyzing on the exposure of diseases, their potential for spreading in the entire community or a particular area, and how these could be controlled. You would help with the collection and statistical analysis of data and assist in developing a methodology for further research in public health studies as well as in clinical research.
Popular Specialization in Epidemiology Profession
Chronic Disease Epidemiologists are involved in the study and research of infectious diseases of chronic nature. They focus their study on diseases like cancer, HIV, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, or pulmonary disease etc. Epidemiologists identify their root causes, its effect on public health and try to provide solutions to these problems.
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What Does an Epidemiology do?
As an Epidemiologist, you would be involved in the following key roles and responsibilities:
- You would oversee public health programs, including statistical analysis, health care planning and public health improvement.
- You would be involved in investigating diseases or disorders to determine cause and risk factors, progress, life cycle, or mode of transmission.
- You would plan, administer and evaluate health safety standards and programs to improve public health, conferring with the health department, industry personnel, physicians and others.
- You would be involved in providing expertise in the design, management and evaluation of study protocols and health status questionnaires, sample selection and analysis.
- You would conduct research to develop methodologies, instrumentation, and procedures for medical applications, analyzing data and presenting findings.
- You would consult with and advise physicians, educators, researchers, government health officials and others regarding medical applications of sciences, such as physics, biology, and chemistry
- You would be involved in collecting and analyzing data through observations, interviews, and surveys, and by using samples of blood or other bodily fluids—to find the causes of diseases or other health problems
- You would also be involved in managing public health programs by planning programs, monitoring their progress, analyzing data, and seeking ways to improve the programs in order to improve public health outcomes
How to Become an Epidemiology – Eligibility Criteria
After completing graduation and post-graduation in your areas of specialization, you would need to pursue a Post-Doctoral study or research in the area you want to specialize in. You can find the following subjects/specializations in which you can take up your master’s or Ph.D.:
- Clinical Epidemiology
- Public Health
As an Epidemiologist, you may find work in:
- Medical research organizations and colleges such as: the National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE), Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC)
- Research institutions and Universities such as Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Toxicological Research (IITR), National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Regional Medical Research Centre, N.E. Region (RMRC), Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC), Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, etc.
- Universities/ institutions under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) such as: the National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE), the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR), the National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), the National Institute of Virology (NIV), National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), National Institute of Occupational Health, National Institute of Medical Statistics (NIMS), National Center for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), National Institute of Immunohaemotology (NIIH)
As an Epidemiologist, you may find job opportunities as follows:
- After Master’s degree, (i) as a Research Associate/ Research Assistant; or (ii) as a Doctoral Fellow; or (iii) as a Project Officer (Minimum two years of experience)
- After a Ph.D. as a Post-Doctoral Fellow
- After Ph.D. as a Principal Investigator
- After Ph.D., as a Scientist
- In university departments and colleges, as an Assistant Professor after Ph.D. or Post-Doctoral.
Salary of an Epidemiology
If you begin your career after a Master’s degree as a Research Associate, you will earn about Rs.25,000 – 30,000 per month
If you begin your career after a Master’s degree as a Doctoral Fellow, you will earn about Rs.35,000 – 40,000 per month
If you begin your career after a Ph.D. as a Post-Doctoral Fellow, you will earn around Rs.45,000 – 50,000
If you begin your career after a Ph.D. as a Scientist, you will earn around Rs. 70,000 – 85,000 per month.
If you begin your career in teaching and research, as an Assistant Professor with an experience of 0-3 years, you will earn around Rs.55,000 – 75,000.
As an associate professor with around 12-18 years of experience, you will earn around Rs.1,20,000 – 1,50,000 per month.
As a Senior Scientist with around 12-18 years of experience, you will earn about Rs. 1,35,000- 1,85,000 or even more per month.
As a Professor with around 15-25 years of experience, you will earn around Rs. 1,55,000 – 2,25,000 per month.
As a Dean/Department head with more than 25+ years of experience, you will earn around Rs.2,15,000 – 2,50,000 per month.
As a Director / Chief Scientist/ similar positions in research, with more than 25+ years of experience, you will earn about Rs. 2,30,000 – 3,00,000 or even more per month.
Career Progression in Epidemiology Profession
- After the Master’s degree, if you have started as a Research Associate/ Research Assistant then you can become a Senior Research Associate. You need to have a Ph.D. to progress further as an Entomologist in your area of research.
- If you have started as Doctoral Fellow, you will first be Junior Research Fellow (JRF) or a Senior Research Fellow (SRF).
- After a Ph.D. if you start as a Post-Doctoral Fellow, your growth would be limited as you would not grow designation-wise. Your tenure would be 1-3 or more years.
- After Ph.D., if you begin as a Scientist, then you will progress as Scientist – Lead Scientist or Senior Scientist (in different grades) – Principal Scientist – Director/ Dean, etc.
- In university departments and colleges, if you begin as an Assistant Professor after Ph.D., then you will grow through the ranks such as Assistant Professor – Associate Professor – Professor – Dean/Director
What does Industry Trends Say – Future Prospects
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for epidemiologists are set to grow 5 % from 2018 to 2028. The demand for Epidemiological and Public health services are increasing rapidly, especially in overpopulated countries like India. Therefore career in Epidemiology is very much in demand and is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.
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