All MPH students are required to complete a one-term field experience, called a practicum. The practicum experience may include work in administrative, research, or clinical settings, or participation in ongoing health education, research, or program activities. Practica are individually selected and tailored to meet student needs with the focus, substance, and approach varying by student.
The overall purpose of the practicum experience is to provide an opportunity for students to synthesize and integrate one’s area of substantive expertise with competencies in program design, implementation, management, and evaluation; research data collection, analysis, and reporting; and policy analyses and advocacy.
During the practicum, students will:
Apply this learning to distinct, coherent practicum projects focusing on a specific area of public health practice
Provide host sites with valuable materials, services, analyses, and/or research that relates directly to the ongoing activities and mission of the site, and that meets the defined healthcare needs of the site’s surrounding community
Decisions on the nature, location, objectives, and activities of the practicum are made through discussion and agreement among the student, faculty advisor, and practicum preceptor/site supervisor.
General Public Health students can conduct a practicum at any point after the completion of the Core curriculum. A minimum of 140 hours of fieldwork is required for GPH students. This is usually accomplished by working approximately 10 hours per week during a 14-week semester, or 15-20 hours per week during the summer months. Many students exceed this hourly requirement, particularly those who seek summer-long, intensive experiences.
Medical residents and Fellows often identify a project in conjunction with their parallel residency or fellowship program, although the component(s) of that project intended to fulfill the MPH practicum must be clearly identified. Medical students at P&S may substitute their 4th Year Public Health Elective for the required Practicum.
Students take an active role in identifying a practicum project, site, and on-site supervisor. There is an annual Practicum Information and Planning session, often held at the end of the Fall semester.
A Scope of Work is developed by the student in conjunction with (potential) on-site supervisors, faculty, colleagues, and Dr. Catallozzi (who must approve the scope of work before work commences). Submission of the Scope of Work is handled through an online database.
Mrinalini Tavag can assist students in accessing the practicum-site database, which lists a variety of potential practicum sites for students to consider. In order to make an appointment with Dr. Catallozzi to discuss potential practicum opportunities, it is recommended that students complete a Practicum Assistance form (PDF) and return it to Mrinalini.
To fulfill the practicum requirement, students must successfully carry out their approved practicum plans, including completion of all activities and deliverables, and prepare a 10-page “Practicum Paper.” This paper will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis and must be submitted at least two months prior to a student’s planned graduation date. (See Guidelines for the Practicum Paper)