The practicum, also known as the practice placement or field training, is one of the distinguishing features of the MPH curriculum. Through the practicum, students have the opportunity to apply public health concepts, knowledge and skills at a practice placement site selected for its ability to meet the student’s learning objectives and expected activity/research outcomes.
A brief description of the DPHS policies and procedures for the field practicum is provided below. Further details are available in the Practicum Handbook.
The practicum is carried out as a formal course entitled PH 791: Advanced Public Health Practice, for three credits.
Community experiences completed before receiving the approval of the student’s committee members and field preceptor are just community experiences and cannot be counted as the practicum. To be considered a practicum, the practicum experience must be supervised and guided by learning objectives that focus the student to apply course MPH knowledge, attitudes, and skills in the community.
To receive credit for the practicum experience, the student must obtain advanced approval of all practicum placements and learning objectives via the completion of Form 15, which must be signed by the student’s program committee and field preceptor prior to the start of any field training work. In addition to the Form 15, the student must obtain liability insurance.
Professional liability insurance offers students financial and legal protection against claims of malpractice and is required by most field practicum sites. The university is prohibited from providing malpractice or liability insurance for students in field training. However, liability insurance for students in allied health professions can be purchased through select insurance carriers. See Graduate Student Handbook for details.
Students usually register for the 240-hour practicum during the first semester of their second year after they have completed the practicum hours in six to twelve weeks over the summer between their first and second year. The practicum requires the students’ full-time attention and effort to complete. To spread the course out over a longer time period, the student should make the necessary arrangements with his or her program committee and the Practicum Coordinator. Though the student completes the Form 15 and purchases liability insurance at the start of the practicum process, the student must register for PH 791 in the semester he or she intends to complete (not begin) the practicum. To finish the practicum, the student must write a summary practicum report and have their preceptor complete an evaluation of the student. The evaluation is done on Form 16.
The practicum placement must be an approved site, and the preceptor must be pre-approved and have at least a master degree and one to two years of public health experience. Arranging for placement represents a mixture of student- and faculty-initiated actions. One source of practicum placements is the wide range of opportunities in health and community organizations which have served as field training sites for former MPH students (list of past practicum sites). Selection of the placement site can be streamlined with the help of the student’s faculty adviser and the Practice Coordinator. An Organization Request Form is available to prospective field preceptors who are seeking MPH students for a practicum placement or community service.
The Practicum Coordinator, Lisa Kehl, is available to assist students, faculty and field preceptors during various phases of the field training process. Ms. Kehl maintains general field training information and specific information on placements which she provides via seminars, written notices and individual advising. In addition, the coordinator communicates with practicum preceptors as needed and maintains a list of community requests for practicum students.