Arizona is found in the southwest of the country and is one of the Four Corner states. It shares three borders with other states, in other words, and another border with Mexico. It is the 14th most populous and 6th largest state in the country. Phoenix is its capital and also the most populous city, being home to 1,615,017 people, according to the 2016 census. The state of Arizona as a whole, according to the census, is home to 6,931,071 individuals.
The climate of Arizona is desert-like in the south. Summers are hot and winters are mild. Being a large state, however, the north has a very different climate, with snowfall in the winter and milder summers. The state has a number of places of outstanding natural beauty, including deep canyons, mountain ranges, forests, and the Colorado Plateau. Also found in this state are the Colorado River, the Chiricahua National Monument, the Saguaro National Park, and the Grand Canyon. Around 25% of the state has been designated as Native American Reservations, the largest percentage in the entire country.
Public Health Problems in Arizona
A number of public health issues in the state have been recognized as requiring immediate attention by the Arizona Department of Health Services. With regards to risk factors and co-occurring conditions, public health issues that must be addressed include, in order of importance:
- Tobacco use
- Substance abuse
- Teenage pregnancy
- Creation of healthy communities and lifestyles
Meanwhile, in terms of morbidity and mortality, key public health issues that must be addressed include:
- HAI (Healthcare Associated Infections)
- Heart disease
- Other chronic diseases, including asthma, respiratory diseases, and cancer
- Oral health
- Unintentional injuries
An important public health issue that must be addressed in Arizona is that of systems of care. Specifically:
- Access to health insurance coverage
- Access to well care
- Behavioral health services
Clearly, there are significant challenges to optimal health that must be addressed across communities in Arizona, and these require the skills and knowledge of experienced public health professionals to resolve.
Unique Pressures on the Public Health System in Arizona
The demographics of Arizona is quite different from that of other states, and this has led to unique pressures on the overall public health system. Two specific pressures are the unusually high rates of poverty and immigration. Also, around 5.3% of the population is Native American, which is five times above the national average. Meanwhile, 25% of the state is reservation land, and many of the issues there are addressed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. However, health care access, food security, and housing remain problematic issues within the state, and not just for the Native American population.
Arizona also has a significant problem with alcohol and substance abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the state ranks highest for youth binge drinking and for the sale of illicit drugs in schools. Furthermore, the state ranks 4th in the nation for alcohol-related deaths, and second for children under the age of 13 who use marijuana, for cocaine abuse, and for alcohol usage. On the other hand, there has been a doubling in the number of people seeking treatment in substance abuse facilities, which could indicate that some of the efforts of public health officials towards addressing these issues are starting to produce results.
Getting a Masters in Public Health in Arizona
The U.S. News and World Report ranks the University of Arizona (Mel and Enid Zuckerman School of Public Health), based in Tucson, as the 25th best school to complete an MPH degree in the country. This school offers nine specific areas of concentration:
- Environmental and Occupational health, with a specific focus on Industrial Hygiene
- Family and Child Health, with a specific focus on Maternal & Child Health or on Global Health
- Health Services Administration, which can also be studied in Phoenix
- Health Behavior Health Promotion
- Public Health Policy and Management
- One Health, the newest degree track with the first enrollment starting in the Fall of 2017
- Public Health Practice, which can only be studied in Phoenix
The school now also offers the general MPH degree online.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Health Services has put in place a State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) for eligible students. This program is made up of the Rural Private Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment Program (REPPCPLRP) and the Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment Program (PCPLRP). The goal of the SLRP is to increase the number of health care professionals who can be recruited and retained by offering a repayment of their loan in return for a full two-year commitment to work in federally designated primary care services. These must be found in Arizona Medically Underserved Areas (AzMUA) or in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).
Working in Public Health in Arizona
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies most MPH degree holders as medical and health services managers. They have reported good working conditions in Arizona, specifically:
- That there are 7,240 of these professionals employed in the state
- That their average annual salary is $110,610, which is significantly above the national average for this profession of $96,540
- That there is predicted 17% growth in demand for medical and health services managers in the U.S. from 2014 to 2024
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- Public Health Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://azdhs.gov/preparedness/public-health-statistics/index.php
- Master of Public Health (MPH). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://publichealth.arizona.edu/academics/mph
- Medical and Health Services Managers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
- Quick Facts – Phoenix City, Arizona. (2016, Jul. 1). Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/phoenixcityarizona,AZ/PST045216