California is this country’s most populous state. It is also the 3rd most extensive in terms of area. It is found on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, on the western side of the country. It shares borders with Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona, as well as with Mexico. The capital of California is Sacramento, but Los Angeles is its largest and most populous city. In fact, only New York City is larger than Los Angeles. The Greater Los Angeles area is the 2nd most populous urban region in the country, and the San Francisco Bay area is the fifth. Furthermore, Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the country, and San Bernardino County is the largest by area.
The state has a very diverse geographic. The west is a Pacific coastal area, whereas the east is home to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The northwest has many redwood and Douglas fir forests, whereas the southeast is home to the Mojave Desert. Central Valley, meanwhile, is at the heart of the state and is its main agricultural area. The climate is warm and Mediterranean, although the north has a temperate rainforest climate, the interior has an arid desert climate, and the mountains can be alpine, even having snow.
Public Health Problems in California
There are four chronic conditions that public health officials in California are particularly concerned about. These are:
- Heart disease
Hypertension is the most prevalent and of significant concern, not in the least because it can cause heart disease, stroke, and other illnesses. The cost per capita for heart disease patients is $12,900, which is five times above that of the general adult population, which stands at $2,400.
The California Department of Public Health also wants to address a number of other significant public health issues, including the fact that:
- 38% (14 million) adults in the state have at least one chronic condition
- Over 50% of those with a chronic condition have multiple conditions.
- 5 million children in the state have been diagnosed with asthma, making it the most common health condition in babies up to 17 years old.
- There is a growing number of teens who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
- Treating a single person who has three or more chronic conditions costs around the same as treating three individuals with one single chronic condition each.
Unique Pressures on the Public Health System in California
California is quite diverse in terms of its ethnic background. It is estimated that:
- 8% are white non-Hispanic.
- 13% are Asian American or Pacific Islander.
- 8% are black non-Hispanic.
- Less than 1% are Native American.
What is of particular interest is that these demographics have changed very dramatically and very rapidly, and this is causing public health officials to change their focus.
Gettng a Masters in Public Health in California
According to the U.S. News & World Report, the MPH degree program offered by the Berkeley School of Public Health of the University of California ranks ninth in the country. This professional degree is practice-based and its graduates can take on positions of leadership in public health. These can be in local, state, and federal health departments, and also health care organizations, community-based organizations, and research institutes.
The said MPH degree program takes two years to complete, although selected students can focus on certain areas of study in an accelerated, 11-month program. This is only available for those who are enrolled in a concurrent doctoral program or who already hold a doctoral degree. The MPH program can be completed both on campus and online, although only the on campus option offers concentration areas, which are:
- Environmental Health Sciences
- Global Health & Environment
- Health & Social Behavior
- Health Policy & Management
- Infectious Diseases & Vaccinology
- Maternal & Child Health
- Public Health Nutrition
Those who complete an MPH degree can take advantage of the State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) that is available in the state. It was authorized in 1987 in an effort to increase the number of primary care practitioners in the state, including public health professionals. Stringent requirements are set for those who wish to take advantage of the SLRP, which is offered through federal funding. The State of California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) administers it, and funds are made available through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), the Bureau of Health Professions (BHPR), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Working in Public Health in California
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies most MPH degree holders as medical and health services managers. They have reported good conditions in California, specifically that:
- There are 33,160 of these professionals employed in the state.
- Their average annual salary is $122,800, which is significantly above the national average for this profession of $96,540.
- The national expectation is to see a 17% growth in demand for the skills of medical and health services managers from 2014 to 2024.
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- Anderson, G.F. & Wilson, K. B. (2006, Oct.). Chronic Disease in California: Facts and Figures. Retrieved from http://www.chcf.org/publications/2006/10/chronic-disease-in-california-facts-and-figures
- California Department of Public Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdph.ca.gov/#
- Let’s Get Healthy California. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://letsgethealthy.ca.gov/
- Lopez, M.H. (2014, Jan. 24). In 2014, Latinos Will Surpass Whites as Largest Racial/Ethnic Group in California. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/01/24/in-2014-latinos-will-surpass-whites-as-largest-racialethnic-group-in-california/
- Berkeley School of Public Health – Degrees We Offer. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sph.berkeley.edu/graduate-degrees/degrees-we-offer
- Medical and Health Services Managers. (2017, Mar. 31). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119111.htm#st
- California State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP). (2017, Mar. 2). Retrieved from https://www.oshpd.ca.gov/HWDD/SLRP.html