Health Psychology is a psychology subspecialty that focuses on how biological, psychological and social factors influence health, wellness and illness. Psychologists may help clients cope with chronic illnesses, become more effective self-advocates and make health care decisions.
Generally, the health psychologist will work in the clinical setting along with other medical employees and professionals. Their goal is to promote overall wellness and to help patients cope with changes that can affect their short- and long-term health. These professionals are also concerned with the psychology behind public health, community health and critical health.
What Does a Health Psychologist Do?
Those wishing to go into the health psychology profession need to be comfortable in the clinical setting. They must also work to help the general public in understanding positive health initiatives. Behavioral changes to improve health is a major concern of these professionals (think the anti-smoking movement).
Due to the nature of educating the public and the individual patient, it is only natural that health psychologists often translate well to the classroom. Conducting research is also a major part of being able to do the job well.
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Careers in Health Psychology
Clinical health psychologists are in high demand all across the country. Hospitals and other health care organizations are often looking for licensed health psychologists on both specialty and general job sites. Non-profit organizations devoted to health awareness may also seek the expertise of these candidates. Last but not least, qualified health psychologists are often found teaching at the university level.
Salary expectations for this career offer an average of about $63,000 per year nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Obviously, this number can be much lower or much higher depending on the skill level and educational training of the professional. Many health psychologists are able to double that salary through private consultation work or a mixture of working in the public and private sectors.
Obtaining a Health Psychology Degree
It is possible to work in this field with just an undergraduate degree, but do not expect to make anywhere near the annual mean wage. The market has become far too competitive at this highly specialized level of health care. To get anywhere, the more education the better.
Doctoral candidates oocupy a significantly higher portion of the best paying positions compared to those with a master’s degree. Before pursuing this career, be certain of the geographical requirements involved, as these vary across the country.