Welcome to the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Public Health) program at Cape Breton University.

About the Public Health program

Public Health has been defined as what we, as a society, do collectively to ensure the conditions for people to be healthy. The interdisciplinary nature of public health practice demands that all practitioners of public health develop skill sets that allow them to support each other, to develop surge capacity, particularly in times of crisis or emergency. This program aims to support the development of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified as core competencies for public health practice. In addition to core competencies, parctitioners must develop the discipline specific competencies required of their area of speciality. The focus of this degree program is the environmental public health dimension of public health.

Just what is Environmental Public Health?

Environmental Public Health is the component of Public Health that comprises those aspects of human health, including quality of life, that are determined by physical, chemical, biological, social, and psychosocial factors in the environment. It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing, correcting, controlling, and preventing those factors in the environment that can potentially adversely affect the health of present and future generations.

It has also been defined as comprising those aspects of human health, disease, and injury that are determined or influenced by factors in the environment. This includes not only the study of the direct pathological effects of chemical, physical, and biological agents, but also the effects on health of the broad physical and social environment, which includes housing, urban development, land-use & transportation, industry, and agriculture.

There are two primary dimensions to Environmental Public Health, Community Health, which deals with the environmental factors that are of concern where we live and where we play, and Occupational Health & Safety, which addresses our workplace environments.

Program graduates are academically eligible to sit for the certification examinations of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors, which can lead to public sector careers as Public Health Inspectors, Environmental Health Officers, Food Safety Specialists, and Occupational Health & Safety Officers. The private sector also employs graduates as Environmental Health consultants in areas such as water & food quality, pest control, risk assessment, and indoor air quality.

Recent events such as the Westray Mine disaster, the Walkerton water tragedy, bioterrorism threats, and SARS have generated new demands for Environmental Public Health expertise. It is anticipated that employment opportunities for graduates with the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Public Health) degree will be significantly higher than average for some time into the future. The demand for increased capacity and advanced education of practitioners in Public Health has seen access to post-graduate programs increase sharply. More and more CBU Public Health graduates are furthering their education by enrolling in these post-graduate programs.

Helen Mersereau, Chair, Health Studies, helen_mersereau@cbu.ca