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What Can I Do with an Epidemiology Degree?

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  • Written By: Amy Rodriguez
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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An epidemiology degree can be put to use in a number of different ways, and has research, clinical, veterinary, and field applications. Additionally, epidemiologists can work in a laboratory or hospital, as well as travel to different locales where disease has appeared. The main duty of an epidemiologist is to study disease, from its causes to its overall control in human and animal populations.

Researchers use their epidemiology degree to study particular diseases; the study's goal is normally how to terminate or control the germ. Many times, the researcher will concentrate his or her studies on a specific community or region where the disease is prevalent. Environmental factors, as well as cultural habits, are analyzed to determine the best course of action to cure or treat a group of ill patients.

Hospitals mainly employ clinical epidemiologists to create health parameters for the workers and visiting patients. These health centers house many different patients with various ailments; the epidemiology degree used for clinical applications ensures that a hospital does not infect the workers and patients with multiple germs. Hand washing and disinfecting surgical areas are just a few of the different parameters a clinical epidemiologist must regulate.

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Applying an epidemiology degree in veterinary medicine allows a worker to control or terminate a disease within the animal population. Ailments, such as mad cow disease, need to be analyzed, diagnosed and contained so the animal population does not suffer from mass death. In addition, some animal diseases can affect humans. For example, eating infected beef or cow's milk can possibly cause illness in humans. Veterinary epidemiologists work diligently to keep both the human and animal populations healthy.

Disease outbreaks can sometimes occur in remote regions of the world. Field workers apply their epidemiology degree by visiting the infected region and collecting information. The epidemiologist may take body fluid samples and interview patients; questions asked can range from describing daily habits to determining environmental interactions, such as drinking unfiltered water. As a result, the epidemiologist can begin to determine a course of action to treat the sick and prevent more infections.

When deciding on an epidemiology degree concentration, you should evaluate your comfort level related to working conditions. Field workers travel often and may visit dangerous areas of the world. In contrast, hospital and laboratory workers usually remain in one location for the duration of the work day; epidemiologists who require quiet areas for researching and reasoning may prefer a laboratory or hospital setting.

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