There is no definitive answer to this question because of the different job titles in epidemiology. DegreeQuery mentioned some of these in related articles – see links below. Therefore, the daily tasks of an epidemiologist vary depending on where he or she works. We’ll look at positions available in this field to gain insight into one’s workday outlined in the posted duties and responsibilities from online employment sources.
A typical work schedule for one epidemiologist could be dissimilar to another in the same profession. Jobs exist in the private and public sectors, with most employed in public health. This area also has numerous job titles and variances in duties. Job search websites, like Indeed and SimplyHired, are places to read educational preference, required skills, responsibilities, and a synopsis of the employer.
In the job description of many jobs in the public health arena, employers frequently use state – epidemiological activities include the collection, monitoring, statistical analysis, data interpretation, and program evaluation. This description is the essence of epidemiology.
What is epidemiology?
To understand the myriad of daily activities, you need to know what this medical science branch entails. However, applicants do not require a medical degree (M.D.) or a registered nursing degree (R.N.) in most instances. The epidemiologist is less concerned with how an infection transmits from one person to another. He/she focuses on the cases’ numbers, the possible disease’s origin, the geographical area affected, mortality rates, hospitalizations, and recovery rates. Hence, epidemiology is an analytical tool to determine the extent of an epidemic or pandemic on human populations.
The Department of State Health Services in Tyler, Texas, posted the position of Epidemiologist I in December 2020. The full job description is over 200 words as it details the numerous duties the successful candidate will perform. With so many activities, it’s impossible to describe a typical workday. The following is a synopsis of some of the tasks. How does one predict a daily work schedule? It could change at a moment’s notice.
- Respond to a bioterrorism event or large disease outbreak anywhere in Texas
- Implement the preparedness and response activities (in the event of the above)
- Provide consultative services regarding disease reporting and surveillance, prevention, and control measures
- Assist in the planning and conducting of epidemiologic investigations
- Formulate regional plans related to bioterrorism events, infectious disease outbreaks, and other public health threats and emergencies
- Prepare reports and disseminates findings
As you see, catastrophes perpetrated by terrorists or criminals and infectious diseases have the potential to disrupt one’s workday. An epidemic may start gradually, as was COVID-19, which blossomed into a global pandemic. On January 30, 2020, the CDC reported the first case of person-to-person transmission of the virus. As of February 2, 2021, the United States has had over 27 million cases of COVID and over 455,000 deaths caused by the disease.
For epidemiologists, the exponential growth of the coronavirus is a once in a lifetime experience. Linear or logarithmic scales, graphs, number crunching, predictions, data analysis, and more have created unprecedented projects for public health officials. Those involved in data analysis might have a routine schedule – knowing what the workday will bring. You could be sitting at a desk computing the latest figures for new cases, deaths, hospitalizations, recoveries, and locations for each.
Fortunately, pandemics are rare. The last infectious disease to spread across the planet was the mislabeled Spanish Flu of 1918 (the origin was not Spain). Its death toll dwarfs COVID-19, as the CDC predicted as many as 50 to 100 million people worldwide died over two years. More precise figures are not available.
A position with the State of Iowa under the supervision of the Chief of the Bureau of Family Health seeks a Newborn Screening Epidemiologist. In addition to the standard duties of collecting, compiling, analyzing, and reporting statistical data, the job involves attending national training, workshops, and visits to the CDC. As with the position above, the person will receive assignments when emergencies or disaster occurs. Again, some of the workdays are predictable – hours spent reviewing statistics. Other days may not be as mundane when an immediate response is necessary. Meetings crop up at inopportune times that can affect one’s planned activities.
Individuals preferring a routine workload may opt for research. A job posting at the Department of Public Health located on the University of California-Davis Campus is for a Research Data Analyst. A master’s degree in epidemiology or statistics qualifies applicants to perform data management and analytical support to investigators, as well as undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral scholars in the Lab. The person will be the primary bioinformatics/biostatistics expert in the Lab and will assist with research design and perform complex datasets analyses. Research jobs in this vein might be conducive to a more regimented schedule of daily activities.