First Year Trainee Headcount*
Advanced Trainee Headcount*
New College Fellow Headcount*
Specialist Headcount*
Median Age*
Headcount Over 65 Years Old*
*WA figures sourced from NHWDS & MET

Public health physicians work across a variety of areas, including in health departments, public health units, universities or other peak health organisations or services. Areas of work may include policy, communicable disease surveillance and control including outbreak management, health promotion, chronic disease, screening programs and research.

Public health physicians, with medical training and further training in public health play a specialist role in bridging the gap between non-clinical staff and clinicians, to ensure policies and programs are evidence-based, can be effectively implemented, are acceptable to key stakeholders, and unintended effects are minimised.

Day-to-day work may entail developing guidelines or policies, reviewing and evaluating programs, informing communications, campaigns and strategies, liaising and providing advice to clinicians and the community regarding public health matters, supporting non-clinical teams in their day to day work, and teaching and supporting public health trainees.

Positive attributes of a public health physician include:

  • Interest in evidence-based driven policy and public health management
  • Interest in the health of the population, equity and social determinants of health
  • Ability to work in a flexible manner, and across a variety of projects simultaneously
  • Good time management skills
  • Ability to work within a team, often with different skill sets and with no clinical background
  • Strong written skills to develop guidelines, briefing notes and public communication materials
  • Strong oral skills and the ability to undertake public speaking, provide briefings or handovers to non-clinical and clinical teams
  • Ability to lead and chair meetings and undertake stakeholder engagement
  • Ability to lead projects, which may include managing a team.

Public health physicians usually work in non-patient facing roles, however some aspects, such as in public health units, may include some clinical work - for example, when assessing risk and advising on post-exposure prophylaxis for a communicable disease. Work is usually undertaken in an office, however, may involve some travel to health services and facilitate health promotion and clinician education, particularly for those located in regional areas.

Working with stakeholders is essential in public health, and these may vary across health, local government, non-government organisations and the community.

Most roles are during office hours. Although there is no clinical after hours or shift work, some roles may have on-call requirements after hours.

Registrars training in public health have opportunities to develop skills required of a public health physician. Throughout their training, registrars are typically involved in a variety of projects across the various areas of public health to gain a well-rounded training experience that builds on applying their medical knowledge to public health practice

Entry into training requires completion of a Master of Public Health or equivalent, and a minimum of three years postgraduate clinical experience (which includes internship). A Master of Public Health no longer contributes to those three years of postgraduate clinical experience. Refer to the RACP Public Health Medicine webpage for up-to-date details regarding entry and training requirements.

Registrars will need to apply for entry into training to ensure they meet all of the requirements to commence training, and then apply for a job which may be a public health registrar position, or an alternative position that has been accredited as a training position (see RACP Accredited Settings). In Western Australia (WA), some existing roles may be found in the WA Department of Health, public health units and universities. However other public health or health policy related roles, for example in the Department of Health, a public health unit, non-government organisation or university, can be approved for training, provided sufficient evidence can be provided to demonstrate the role meets public health training competencies, and an appropriate supervisor and mentor can be identified.

Existing registrar positions at public health units and the WA Department of Health usually ensure registrars undertake a well-rounded training experience, across all of the key competency areas for public health training. It also provides registrars with opportunities to assist with day-to-day operational activities. Work is generally a balance of short-term projects and more urgent operational activities or tasks.

Most roles are office hours and there are no on-call responsibilities for public health registrars in WA.

If you have any questions about public health training in WA, refer to the RACP Contact Us webpage.

Public health physicians are employed in a variety of areas, including in roles working in communicable disease control, policy, epidemiology, environmental health, health promotion, research, management and leadership positions within and across the health system.

Jobs are usually in public health units or Health Departments, with opportunities nationally and globally.