Group of health professionals holding a meeting.

While public health and primary care share a common goal, they’ve historically functioned independently of one another. But public health initiatives are becoming increasingly global, requiring international cooperation among government agencies, public health organizations, and primary care providers. Professionals with online public health and health sciences degrees are becoming an important catalyst for this shift in awareness and collaboration.

Definition of Public Health

The CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit created by the U.S. Congress, defines public health as follows:

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“Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities. This work is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases. Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world.”1

Public health professionals focus on a broad array of services across communities, cities, states, and countries. Walden University offers a full suite of online public health and health sciences degree programs that prepare students to launch or advance their careers in this critical field.

Definition of Primary Care

Primary care practitioners focus on the health and well-being of their own patient populations and are generalists, not specialists. They provide a range of medical services to promote patient health and well-being through preventive care, treatment of acute issues, and management of chronic conditions.

At the same time, they’re often the first ones to see patients with medical concerns that relate to broader public health considerations—so they, too, play a vital role.

CDC and AAFP Promote Cooperation Between Public Health and Primary Care

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) undertaking known as the Primary Care and Public Health Initiative (PCPHI) emphasizes the importance of bringing these disciplines together. The PCPHI calls for patient-centered primary care physicians to increase their awareness of public health problems and national initiatives that offer potential solutions.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) also recognizes that “public health competencies and tools are crucial for this realignment to facilitate a better understanding of the needs of the population, prioritizing activities according to epidemiological, organizational, and economic trends.”2

Online Public Health and Health Sciences Degree Programs Are Part of the Solution

Walden University offers a broad range of online public health and health sciences degree programs to prepare students for rewarding careers that help support this collaboration:

Doctoral Degrees

Master’s Degrees

Bachelor’s Degrees

Graduate Certificate

Walden University, an accredited institution has been serving the higher education needs of adult learners since 1970. Walden offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs as well as certificate programs online.

Explore Walden University's online public health degree programs . Earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your life and schedule.

1www.cdcfoundation.org/what-public-health
2www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/integprimarycareandpublichealth.html

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