Residencies bring our students into the forefront of health policy and public health change

Mission Bay at Night

California State Capitol South Portico

Parnassus Heights campus

Do you notice that more and more, the problems you see in clinical settings may have their roots in policy problems? For example, if you work in an emergency department, perhaps the increasing numbers of mentally ill or homeless people seeking services reflect policy changes that reduced funding for treatment and supportive housing services. Or, if you work in a diabetes clinic, perhaps aggressive corporate marketing of high-calorie, low nutrient foods is on your radar. If you care for patients with asthma or emphysema, you may have thought about the role of smokefree policies in providing cleaner air for everyone and preventing disease.

These are all examples of health policy and public health issues.

The nursing profession has a growing role in the health policy and public health arenas as nurses are assuming leadership roles in policy advocacy, research, analysis, policy development, implementation, and evaluation.

Purpose: Nurses have a longstanding history of working in public health (i.e., community health care, public health departments, etc.) and health policy arenas. However, these two tracks are sometimes viewed as separate and apart from one another. The UCSF Health Policy & Public Health combined specialty recognizes the important role that nurses play in advancing policies that promote health equity, health promotion, population health, and public health interventions. By combining these two areas of focus, our nurses will be able to engage in both health policy and public health, promote health equity to end disparities in health, have a greater impact on the health of populations and will prepare our students for a career in advancing healthy equity. 

Career Possibilities:  The field is wide open with very diverse career opportunities.

The HPPH specialty Public Health track prepares you for a career in health education, program development, clinical expertise, consultation, research, public policy, leadership and administration. Graduates of our program work in settings that include health departments, schools and universities, parishes and faith-based programs, home care, refugee/immigrant clinics, jails and prisons, private agencies and non-profit organizations, domestically and internationally, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indian Health Services, World Health Organization, and the International Federation of the Red Cross.  

The Health Policy track prepares nurses with policy expertise to be employed by health services research firms, work in legislative and regulatory offices at the county, state and federal levels, or hold elective or appointed office. Others work in the legislative or policy offices of health maintenance organizations, advocacy organizations, health care companies or health care provider associations, or consult for these and other organizations. One can also find nurses with careers in policy and program planning at international government health organizations and non-governmental organizations.  

 Those who follow the dual track will find that their opportunities span both arenas.