What is public health?
Public health is about improving and protecting the health of groups of people, rather than about treating individual patients. Public health consultants must look at 'the bigger picture' and then take action to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, protect and improve general health, and improve healthcare services. The population they are working for could be a rural community, an entire city, or the global population, but the principles remain the same.
This website provides information specific to training as a specialist or as a practitioner in public health in Health Education England's East of England region. This covers the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.
For more information on careers in Public Health and training as a specialist please see the Faculty of Public Health website.
For training as a specialist with a non-medical background - or training as a practitioner, see the UK Public Health Register (UKPHR) website.
For further information on public health careers, visit Health Careers. This aims to inform people about public health jobs, and support the whole workforce from volunteers up to senior management in developing their careers.
Additional links below will take you to some other resources to learn about a career in public health and in the boxes at the bottom of the page, three of our registrars offer their own experiences of training in the Specialty Training programme.
Choosing to train in Public Health
Available as a Kindle book from Amazon
Public health specialty training is among the most competitive of the higher specialty training programmes in the United Kingdom. A mixed clinical specialty, public health training is open to medical, dental and other graduates, and takes between four and five years. Completion of the training scheme confers specialist registration and eligibility to undertake a range of roles including Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Consultant in Communicable Disease Control.
This Codex, written by three current UK public health specialty registrars (two medical and one non-medical - including one from this scheme), introduces readers to the discipline of public health and career prospects during training and beyond in the UK. As well as offering insights into life as a registrar, the final chapter provides a comprehensive explanation of the UK recruitment process.
My name is Bev and I am currently an ST3 on the public health programme. I joined the training programme in 2017 after spending 22 years in nursing and I relocated to Suffolk to take up my post. My first 2 years were spent undertaking a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Cambridge and on placement with the Suffolk County Council Public health team. During that time, I also undertook a four-month placement with the local health protection team and have recently started on-call health protection work, which I am really enjoying. I have had some fantastic opportunities and there is really good support from supervisors and training programme directors. We are a small speciality and have a very active Registrar group, which runs regional training events six times a year. I have been the group secretary for the last 12 months and I am now also a Health Protection rep for the group as this is a particular area of interest for me. With the support of a HEE bursary I am just about to start a Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education, which I’m really excited about. I have also had lots of training and study opportunities on the programme and there is excellent Faculty exam preparation on offer. My experience as a more mature trainee has been really positive and I’m so glad I made the move to the East of England.
Hi I’m Nicola and I’ve been lucky enough to work on the East of England South Public Health training programme since 2016. I’m from a non-medical background - before training I worked as an analyst at NICE on interventional procedures and public health guidelines. The region is very friendly, and all trainees are well looked after. The Deanery is very accommodating and allows trainees to work LTFT and I found it a very easy process to switch from full to part time working. I completed the MPhil in Public Health at the University of Cambridge as part of the training and found this hugely enjoyable and a good preparation for many elements of the Part A professional exam (The Faculty of Public Health Diplomate Examination). The work within Local Authority Placements is varied and interesting. In my time at Hertfordshire County council I’ve worked on a joint strategic needs assessment for looked after children, evaluated health services, written a business case for a physical activity campaign and much more. There is a wide variety of placement opportunities available within the region and in London. Trainees really support each other in this region and there are regular training events. Support for exam preparation is exceptionally well co-ordinated. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here and I’m sure you will too.
I am a ST2 Public Health registrar in my second year of five years of specialty training to become a Public Health Consultant. I am based in the East of England (based in Essex), and have a non-medical background. I started training as a specialty registrar in public health in August 2018 and have recently returned to working in the local authority, having completed a MPhil in Public Health in Cambridge as part of my first year of training. I’m really enjoying the wide range of work I can get involved in at my local authority, and I’m currently part of several projects looking at a range of areas of public health including: research on families living below the minimum income standard, referral pathways for financially disadvantaged children, workplace health and strength and balance services. I’m also working with my supervisor and research team from the MPhil to develop my thesis for publication, which is a great opportunity arising from training in the East of England. Along with the other trainees in my year I will be sitting the first of my professional exams, the Diplomate exam in Public Health, in January, so am making the most of the peer support and guidance from the training scheme in order to prepare for this milestone in my training.
Before the training programme my undergraduate studies were in Anatomy and Physiology. I joined the NHS in 2013 and have held a number of roles in the East of England, including training on the NHS Graduate management scheme as an Informatics trainee in the East of England (2013 intake), with placements at Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust (HPFT), Specsavers and Mid Essex Hospital Trust (MEHT). Most recently I have spent the last 3 years working as a CCG planned care commissioner.