Dr Cath

Doing Public Health

Dr Cath

Interested in Public Health? This website provides tips on studying public health, doing public health research and how to go about working in public health.

I am a public health doctor working to improve the health of the population and protecting people from diseases. I also try to use my knowledge to make my own life and that of my family and friends happier and healthier.

I want to pass on what I've learned to you.

What is Public Health?

Public health is about improving and maintaining the health of populations. It is because of public health, you can eat out in a restaurant without getting sick, visit far flung places safely, have clean running water and good sanitation and live beyond childhood because of vaccination programmes that have removed threats of deadly diseases. Many people mistakeningly think that public health work is health promotion. It is part of the job but not all of it.

Public Health work is done by three groups of people. There are the academics who do research on health like epidemiology and clincial trials. Then you have the public health specialists, such as public health doctors, public health managers and health intelligence teams who survey population health, manage communicable diseases, improve quality of health services and develop strategies and action plans for improving the health of populations. Finally, there are people who do a bit of public health as part of their job. Whether it be a health visitor giving advice on breastfeeding or immunisation or a GP promoting cancer screening programmes. Or it could be you helping your family and community to live longer and have a better quality of life.

Overall, all public health specialists and practitioners help people to help themsleves with their health. This includes protecting them from disease, chemical incidents, cancer and accidents, improving their health and well-being and help them to get the best value out of health and social services.

How do I find out more about working in public health?

If you are interested in what public health doctors do, then take a look at HOT DESK. This section is particularly aimed at specialty registrars in public health and covers work placements and tips for passing the dreaded MFPH exams! These webpages are also of interest to GP Trainees, many of whom do a 6 month public health placement and foundation doctors.

ASK DR CATH covers some of the commonly asked questions about working in public health and my blog Musings on Public Health reflects my work as a consultant. (Admittedly I can be too busy to update it at times!)

How can I find out a little bit more about living healthier?

Check out my BLOGS. This page links to my blog 'Healthy Transmission', which does the research for you so you don't have to. There is also 'Eat Younger', my attempts at collating and testing recipes that can help to stay healthy for longer. If you're a little interested in blogs on juggling work, family life and staying true to the girl within, then check out my personal blog "On the Mummy Wheel".

How can I find out more about the methods used in public health work and research?

Check out TOOLKIT.

What is Preventive Medicine?

Preventive medicine is an old-fashioned term used to denote immunisation and early intervention (screening). I've resurrected it to reflect the spilt of immunisation and screening from the rest of public health since April 2013 in the United Kingdom. PREVENTIVE MEDICINE provides information on immunisation, vaccinations and screening programmes from a public health perspective.

What is Social Medicine?

Before becoming a public health doctor, I was a medical sociologist with a specialism of sexual health. Click onto SOCIAL MEDICINE to find out about social medicine, population health and sociology and how they link with public health. As of 2015, I am working on updating the sexual health component and this will be added later in 2015.

Public Health e-Knowledge

On this page I have collected notes, links and summaries that I think are helpful to people training or working in public health. They include pointers on management, leadership, health analytics, health protection, health promotion and communications with the public.

Ask Dr Cath

Got a burning question about public health? Then ask Dr Cath! On this page, I have posted commonly asked questions that I receive both online and during my job.


I would like to thank Dr Moneim Elhassan for contributing cartoons to this website.


Views expressed in this website are those of the author only. It is not associated with the National Health Service (NHS) or any other public bodies.