Agencies

Practicum Projects include domestic or international work in nearly every area of public health practice: environmental health sciences, health policy & management, population & family health, epidemiology, sociomedical sciences and biostatistics. In addition to being a vital part of our students’ service learning process, field placement experiences allow students to apply their classroom knowledge and skills to practical settings while making significant contributions to their host organizations.

Mailman students are able to work on a variety of projects to fulfill their practicum requirements, such as needs assessments, program planning, implementation and/or evaluation, policy analysis, grant writing, research design, data collection and/or analysis, health curriculum development and health education among others.

The duration of practicum ranges from 140 to 350 hours, depending on the academic department. Students in our Global Health program engage in a six-month international practicum. Most MPH students complete their practicum in the summer between the first and second years of their program, and have completed core coursework and several specialization courses, including:

  • Epidemiologic methods in the measurement of disease rates, prevention of infectious diseases

  • Evaluation of health education programs and policies

  • Statistical methods for estimation and hypothesis testing, and basics of correlation and regression in analyzing the health of populations

  • Interaction of environmental contaminants with biological systems and their effect on human populations to evaluate risk reduction strategies

  • Assessing the impact on health policy options of social, political, technological, economic, and cultural forces

  • Basic management techniques in address organizational challenges in health care delivery

  • Examine public health issues from a social and behavioral sciences perspective to better understand health disparities within and between populations.

Agency Supervisors: Roles and Responsibilities

The role of the supervisor is critical to the success of the student’s practicum experience. In accepting a Mailman student, agency supervisors are encouraged to:

  • Assist students in defining and completing a realistic Scope of Work (SOW)

  • Determine the need for special training or certifications (e.g., HIPAA, IRB)

  • Develop appropriate schedule of work and timeline for deliverables

  • Provide agency orientation

  • Determine appropriate reporting structure if and when supervisor is not available

  • Meet regularly to assess student’s progress and performance

  • Invite student to participate in relevant meetings, workshops or seminars

  • Complete and submit a student evaluation form at the end of the practicum

Field Practice supervisors are encouraged and welcome to communicate with and seek support from the student’s academic advisor and/or the Office of Field Practice as needed. Please contact msph-ofp@columbia.edu.