The state of Florida, which means “land of flowers”, is in the southeastern part of the country. It is bordered by Georgia and Alabama and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the 3rd most populous, 8th most densely populated, and 22nd most extensive state in the country. The most popular municipality is that of Jacksonville, and the Miami metropolitan area is the most populous. Tallahassee is the state capital.
The geography of Florida is quite unique, particularly because the state has the longest coastline in the country, which is approximately 1,350 miles long. It is also the only state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is mainly made up of sedimentary soil at sea level. The south is tropical in climate, and the north is subtropical. It is also home to the Everglades National Park, manatee, Florida panther, American crocodile, and American alligator.
Public Health Problems in Florida
The Florida Department of Public Health has identified a number of key areas of concern for public health. The first element is linked to disease prevention, which includes:
- Drowning prevention
- Sexual abuse
- Stress prevention
- Substance abuse prevention
- Suicide prevention
- Smoking prevention
The second element focuses on injury prevention, specifically:
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
- Dog bites
- Suicide prevention
- Smoking prevention
The six leading causes of death in Florida are:
- Heart disease
- Unintentional injuries
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
Unique Pressures on the Public Health System in Florida
The population of Florida is quite unique in terms of ethnic background. The 2005 census stated that:
- 1% were white.
- 20% were Hispanic or Latino.
- 17% were African American or Afro-Caribbean.
- 1% were Asian American.
- 4% were Native Americans.
No other state has an African-American population as large as that of Florida, and the Latino population is second largest on the East Coast, excluding New York. There is also a particularly rapid growth of Asian people, hailing mainly from China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. A number of Native American tribes have been recognized in the state, including the Seminoles, who live in the southeastern region. Their health concerns are addressed mainly by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, although alcohol abuse is particularly problematic.
The Hispanic population in Florida is mainly made up of Cubans who live in Miami and are refugees from Castro’s regime. Puerto Ricans live mainly in Tampa and Orlando. Mexicans and Central Americans, meanwhile, live in the South and the West-Central regions of the state. This community is particularly mobile and affluent, and now includes Nicaraguans, Dominicans, and Colombians.
The majority of non-Hispanic whites stem from 19th century settlers, who developed the agriculture in Florida, particularly cotton. Most of these families have British ancestry, originating from Wales, England, Scotland, and Ireland. That said, some have Spanish and French ancestry as well.
The non-Hispanic black population is also increasing, both through Caribbean immigration and reverse migration from the north of the country. Around 50% of non-Hispanic blacks are African American, with others being Haitian and West-Indian. Their largest concentrations are in North Florida, particularly in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa. The Miami metropolitan area is also home to a large Indian/Haitian community. The state also has the largest Jamaican American and Haitian American populations in the country.
Each of these population groups have different health concerns that must be addressed by public health officials.
Getting a Masters in Public Health in Florida
The U.S. News & World Report ranks the MPH degree program offered by the University of South Florida as 16th best in the country.
This MPH program offers a set of principles and skills that are required for students who wish to become leaders in specific fields of health within professional settings. The goal is to produce specialists who can protect the well-being and health of specific population groups in the state. Indeed, the focus is on innovative, culturally appropriate, population-based approaches, particularly on emerging and current public health concerns in the state.
The core of the degree focuses on elements of social and behavioral sciences, occupational and environmental health, health policy and management, epidemiology, and biostatistics. Students also choose an area of concentration, with their options being:
- Health care organizations and management
- Policy and programs
- Environmental health
- Toxicology and risk assessment
- Safety management
- Occupational health
- Global communicable disease
- Maternal and child health
- Health education
- Behavioral health
- Public health practice
- Global health
- Socio-health sciences
- Global disaster management
- Humanitarian relief
- Homeland security
This makes the program one of the most extensive in the country, with few other universities offering this number concentration options.
Florida is one of the few states that does not have a state loan repayment program in place, however. This means that no loan forgiveness options exist for those who want to complete an MPH degree.
Working in Public Health in Florida
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies most MPH degree holders as medical and health services managers. They have reported good conditions in Florida, specifically that:
- There are 12,130 of these professionals employed in the state.
- Their average annual salary is $118,540, which is significantly above the national average for this profession of $96,540.
- The national expectation is a 17% growth in demand for the skills of medical and health services managers from 2014 to 2024.
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- Medical and Health Services Managers. (2017, Mar. 31). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119111.htm#st
- Diseases and Conditions. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/
- FL Health Charts – Community Health Assessment Resource Tool Set – Chronic Diseases. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.flhealthcharts.com/charts/ChronicDiseases/default.aspx
- Master of Public Health (M.P.H.). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://health.usf.edu/publichealth/apply/graduate-admissions/mph