Practicum

Practicum - Practicum

What is a practicum?

A practicum is a unique learning experience that is planned, supervised, evaluated and graded. Practicum experiences allow students the opportunity to apply classroom education towards a real-world public health problem in a work setting. Each experience varies according to the student’s interests and preceptor’s needs and must be mutually beneficial for the student and the community preceptor. Each practicum culminates in the submission of at least one final product that is planned and approved by the community preceptor and the faculty mentor before the student begins the experience. Students have the option to undergo several practicum experiences.

What are the benefits of a practicum?

The benefits of a practicum experience are many! Students learn practical skills, develop useful contacts in the practice community, gain valuable work experience in the field of public health, and produce final products of sufficiently high quality to be published or presented at a conference. These activities and skills enhance resumes and potentially improve a student’s job prospects.

Who is required to complete a practicum?

A practicum is required for students enrolled in our professional degree programs. These include the Master in Public Health (MPH) degree and the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree.

Can MS and PhD students enroll? 

Yes, students in the Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree programs are encouraged, although not required, to undergo a practicum experience. These students may elect to enroll in PH9997. 

Is academic credit earned? 

Yes, MPH and DrPH students earn academic credit for completing a practicum. Students receive credit by enrolling and completing the requirements of academic course PH9997. Generally, students earn one academic credit for about 60 hours of public health practice and three PH9997 credits may be applied toward your degree. These three credits may come from a single practicum experience or several practicum experiences.  While enrolling in additional credit hours can enrich your public health experience, only three practicum credit hours count toward your degree.

May I have more than one practicum experience? 

Yes, if permitted by your faculty advisor, you may have more than one practicum experience.  Keep in mind, however, that only three academic credits count toward your degree.

Why is a practicum required? 

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the accrediting body for Schools of Public Health in the United States, requires that students earning MPH and DrPH degrees receive practice-based training in a setting outside the classroom. Additionally, formal surveys conducted by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) and anecdotal evidence from local meetings suggest that employers prefer to hire graduates with tangible skills acquired through practice experience. Therefore, the practicum is an essential part of our curriculum that is not likely to be waived.

How do I get started? 

A successful practicum involves three key individuals: the student, the faculty mentor and the community preceptor. Each individual formally accepts the responsibility assigned to their role on the project. In short, the student bears the bulk of the responsibility to develop, conduct, report and evaluate the experience; the faculty guides and approves the project; and the preceptor supervises and evaluates the student’s performance and final product.

We recommend that you plan for your practicum at least one semester prior to starting your practicum.  If you wish to complete an international practicum, we recommend that you plan even earlier than this.

How do we stay in touch with current public health practices?

Our activities are guided by the school’s Practice Council, a group of dedicated and experienced public health educators and practitioners. For more information, please visit the Practice Council tab.  

What if I have more questions?

Please explore the detailed instructions on the next tabs and our Frequently Asked Questions page. You may also e-mail your question to the practicum team at Practicum@uth.tmc.edu. This mailbox is the most reliable way to receive a quick response to your questions or concerns.

Practicum Team 

Janelle Rios, PhD 
Director, Office of Public Health Practice

Holly Cieslikowski
Project Specialist, Office of Public Health Practice

Laura Rademacher, MEd
Educational Programs Coordinator II, Office of Public Health Practice

Questions?

Contact: Practicum@uth.tmc.edu

Welcome

Welcome and congratulations on choosing a degree program that highlights the practical application of classroom-based knowledge. Whether you are a new college graduate, an experienced clinician or a long-time leader in a public health agency, we challenge you to work with your faculty mentor to develop a unique and exciting project that will enhance your skills and benefit your community. 

Because the practicum experience is critical to earning a master’s degree in public health, we require all MPH students to undergo a guided practicum. 

Step 1:

Consider your current and future interests, academic goals and the ideal timing for your practicum experience.

  • Consider the goals of your practicum. Different students have different priorities. Are you interested in a future job? If so, the contacts you make and the quality of your work are crucial. Are you interested in learning a specific skill? If so, choose a preceptor who offers activities that support the skill. Are you already a public health expert? If so, consider novel ways to examine your work or the work of your peers. Would you like to enhance your resume? Find a way to disseminate the results of your practicum project, e.g., prepare a poster or an abstract for presentation at a local professional association. 
  • Contact your faculty advisor to discuss your career interests and goals.  How can your experiences and knowledge you have acquired in the classroom be applied toward a practicum experience?  What kind of practicum would have further your public health interests, knowledge, and experiences? 
    • Interests and expertise – Depending on the alignment of your career interests with your advisor’s expertise, your faculty advisor may or may not serve as your practicum faculty mentor. (Typically, if an advisor’s expertise does not align with a student’s interest, then the advisor may recommend another faculty mentor or the student may find a faculty mentor on his/her own.) Remember, it’s your responsibility to contact and obtain approval from a faculty mentor, regardless of whether or not your advisor recommends the mentor. This is part of the learning process. Also, discuss additional options with your advisor. For example, you may prefer to undergo several smaller experiences or one large experience. You may be unable to travel due to local responsibilities, or you may prefer that your practicum experience occur in a new city, state or country. You may have strong preferences that you wish to incorporate, e.g., a certain illness or injury, a specific population, or a desire to publish a paper or present your findings to boost your resume.
    • Timing – The timing of your practicum is a decision that you and your advisor should reach together. The critical aspect of timing is that it should occur optimally so you are sufficiently prepared and ready for success. Depending on your level of experience and knowledge in the field of public health, your faculty advisor may recommend that you delay your practicum experience until you successfully complete various courses.  We recommend that you begin planning for your practicum at least one semester in advance.
Step 2:

Familiarize yourself with the practicum program.

  • Review the online practicum orientation. This presentation outlines the major milestones and requirements of your practicum. We encourage you to complete this orientation at least one semester before you intend to register.
  • There are additional instructions for the following situations:
    • International students
      • Notify your international advisor early about your intention to pursue a practicum.
      • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) approval is required and this process can be lengthy. We recommend contacting your international advisor while still in the process of looking for an appropriate practicum opportunity.
      • Review the instructions on the International Students tab of this webpage.
    • If you are in any of the following concentrations of study, verify with your concentration advisor that the practicum is suitable to your concentration:
      • Global Health
      • Health Disparities
      • Leadership Studies
      • Maternal and Child Health
      • Physical Activity and Health
    • International Practicum: If planning an international practicum...
      • Please e-mail us at practicum@uth.tmc.edu as soon as you find out who your preceptor will be and what organization will hosting your practicum..
      • Provide us with the name of the organization you'll be working with and a brief description of your project. 
      • We will need to request international collaboration agreements with your preceptor through the UTHealth Office of Global Health Initiatives.  These agreements can take several months to negotiate. 
      • You'll also need to receive approval to travel internationally for your practicum.  (See the International Travel tab on this webpage for instructions).
Step 3:

Explore practicum opportunities and prepare to compete for practicum positions.

  • There are many ways to find a practicum that meets your needs. A few options include
    • Review the list of opportunities available at Finding a Practicum.
    • Ask your faculty advisor or another faculty member for recommendations.
    • Network by attending the many lectures presented by visiting guests, who are often leaders in their respective fields. Make contacts in your field.
    • Talk with your student peers, many of whom work or volunteer in the field of public health.
    • Contact an organization that interests you and develop a practicum on your own.
  • Be prepared to send a resume (with a cover letter), complete an application or interview for the position. If you interview, remember to send a thank-you note.
  • Share your ideas with your faculty advisor, who is tasked with guiding you towards successfully completing your MPH.
  • Choose an organization in which to conduct your practicum and open discussions to introduce yourself and identify a supervising preceptor. 
Step 4:

Finalize your practicum team.

  • Invite your faculty mentor onto your team.
  • Invite your preceptor (supervisor) onto your team. 
  • Meet with your team to discuss your goals, objectives, methods, timelines, final product(s) and any other suggestions (or requirements) made by your preceptor or faculty mentor.
  • If your preceptor needs UTHealth to sign any agreements before you begin your practicum, please forward these to us at practicum@uth.tmc.edu.  We also have a one-page Letter of Affiliation that we send to preceptors with whom we do not already have a signed agreement.
Step 5:

Develop your learning contract.

  • With input from your faculty mentor and preceptor, create your learning contract in the practicum management system. If you have difficulty accessing the learning contract form, try using a different internet browser such as Firefox or Chrome, instead of Explorer.
  • Please save your work often and save before submitting the final learning contract!  We suggest drafting and saving your learning objectives and final product description in a Word document.  Then paste the text into the learning contract form.
  • For help with writing learning objectives and choosing a final product, please refer to the Orientation and Training Materials webpage.
  • Major elements of the contract include
    • Learning objectives:
      • These are explicit statements that clearly express what you will be able to do after the practicum is complete. The statements must be specific, measurable and observable. 
    • Competencies:
      Competencies are descriptions of the capabilities needed to apply a set of related knowledge, skills and abilities. The practicum experience allows MPH students to formally demonstrate attainment of at least five competencies (three of which must be listed as MPH foundational competencies).
    • Time commitment:
      We require you, as an MPH student, to spend a minimum of 180 hours in your practice experience, which may consist of one or more projects and preceptors. You will earn one academic credit per 60 hours of practice and up to three credits may be applied to your MPH degree.
    • Final product:
      Your final product is a tangible and deliverable artifact of your project. It is of value to your preceptor’s organization. Consider it a culmination of your activities. It should serve as an example of the type of work you are qualified to perform. Moreover, it should reflect the high quality we expect from master’s level students. Examples of suitable final products include a well-organized and well-written report, a manuscript suitable for publication, a scientific journal article, a well-referenced presentation to decision makers or a professional society, a detailed training manual and a comprehensive protocol. The e-Magazine summary article is not a suitable final product. This list provides some examples of final products.
Step 6:

Finalize your learning contract.

  • Submit your learning contract at least one week prior to the regular registration deadline. Click here for a list of submission deadlines for the upcoming semesters.
    • Waiting until the last minute to submit your learning contract sends a message to your faculty mentor and preceptor that you are not well prepared and places them in the awkward position of reviewing your learning contract within a narrow time frame.  You also run the risk of not receiving a registration code on time.
  • After you have submitted your learning contract in the online Practicum Management System, your faculty mentor and preceptor should receive an auto-mail. This auto-email provides your faculty mentor and preceptor with the opportunity to review your learning contract. The auto-emails also contain Approve and Reject buttons so your team can quickly review and either approve or reject the contract or make comments.
  • Your faculty mentor and preceptor must approve the learning contract, so begin this process earlier. Once they approve the contract, the system will prompt the Office of Public Health Practice to review the contract to ensure minimal requirements are met and all of the elements are in place. We will not approve contracts that lack formal faculty and preceptor approval.
  • If you are not located at the Houston campus, forward a copy of your approved learning contract to your Campus Coordinator.
  • Upon reviewing your learning contract, we will send a one-page Letter of Affiliation for your preceptor's organization to sign.  If the organization already has a signed Letter of Affiliation or current agreement on file with us, we will not ask them to sign another letter.  Some organizations, however, have their own agreements that they want UTHealth to review and sign.  If you receive a request to complete an agreement for your practicum, please forward the request to our attention at practicum@uth.tmc.edu
  • We follow a separate procedure for agreements with international preceptors, as these are negotiated by the Office of Global Health Initiatives (see Step 1).
Step 7:

Consider special provisions and follow special instructions, if applicable.

  • International Students: Discuss your project with international advisor.  You must receive approval from the Office of International Affairs before beginning work on your practicum. Follow the additional instructions under the International Students tab on this webpage.  Please allow 10 working days for the Office of International Affairs to approve your practicum.
  • Students Conducting an International Practicum: Follow the additional instructions under the International Travel tab on this webpage. You must receive approval to travel. In addition the UTHealth Office of Global Health Initiatives requires us to initiate a separate Memorandum of Understanding and Program agreement with your practicum host site.  As the amount of time to establish these agreements can take up to several months, we ask that you inform of any plans to conduct an international practicum as soon as possible.
  • Concentration Students: Discuss your project with your concentration advisor.
  • Archer Fellows:  Discuss your project with Dr. Rios (Janelle.Rios@uth.tmc.edu).
  • Community Health Practice (CHP) Core III DrPH Students: Contact the Office of Public Health Practice (Practicum@uth.tmc.edu)
  • STEER MD/MPH Students: Contact the Office of Public Health Practice (Practicum@uth.tmc.edu)
  • Texas Tech MD/MPH Students: Contact the Office of Public Health Practice (Practicum@uth.tmc.edu) 
Step 8:

Receive your registration approval code and register.

  • At this point, you’ve reviewed the practicum orientation and your preceptor and faculty mentor have approved your learning contract. In addition, you have followed the instructions for any special circumstances regarding your practicum experience.
  • The practicum office will review your learning contract and will contact you if any changes are required. 
  • Once the practicum office has approved your learning contract, you will receive an authorization code via email from the practicum mailbox (Practicum@uth.tmc.edu). This code will allow you to register for the practicum course PH9997.
  • Register for PH9997.
  • Remember, to graduate all MPH students must complete three practicum credits.  While enrolling in additional credit hours can enrich your public health experience, only three practicum credit hours count toward your degree.
Step 9:

Learn from your preceptor and faculty sponsor and enjoy your practicum experience!

  • Begin your practicum.
  • Conduct the activities you described in your learning contract, including meeting with the practicum team.
  • If there are minor changes to your learning contract, contact Practicum@uth.tmc.edu.
  • Complete your practicum.
  • Complete and share your final product(s) with your faculty mentor and preceptor.
  • Complete the practicum evaluation, which the practicum will e-mail to you.
  • Feel free to share your practicum photos and experience with our office!  You may e-mail these to our general mailbox (Practicum@uth.tmc.edu).

Questions?

Contact: Practicum@uth.tmc.edu

Welcome 

The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program trains students to apply academic expertise and scientific evidence to solve public health problems. Obtaining this degree is exciting, rewarding and very challenging. In addition to completing the competencies set forth in their academic programs, we expect our DrPH students to become proficient in foundational public health competencies. These are set forth, in part, by the school’s accreditor, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). 

After completing the practicum, you will be able to apply concepts from academia to public health practice. This may be accomplished through active participation and contribution with your host preceptor. Examples of activities include participating in conferences and grand rounds, informing the design of health promotion programs, commenting formally on proposed public health regulations, developing or delivering public health training, and drafting white papers or policy briefs.

Step 1:

Consider your current and future interests, academic goals and the ideal timing for your practicum experience.

  • Consider the goals of your practicum. Different students have different priorities. Are you interested in a future job? If so, the contacts you make and the quality of your work are crucial. Are you interested in learning a specific skill? If so, choose a preceptor who offers activities that support the skill. Are you already a public health expert? If so, consider novel ways to examine your work or the work of your peers. Would you like to enhance your resume? Find a way to disseminate the results of your practicum project, e.g., prepare a poster or an abstract for presentation at a local professional association.
  • Contact your faculty advisor to discuss your career interests and your current level of knowledge.
    • Interests and expertise – Depending on the alignment of your career interests with your advisor’s expertise, your faculty advisor may or may not serve as your practicum faculty mentor. (Typically, if an advisor’s expertise does not align with a student’s interest, then the advisor may recommend another faculty mentor or the student may find a faculty mentor on his/her own.) Remember, it’s your responsibility to contact and obtain approval from a faculty mentor, regardless of whether or not your advisor recommends the mentor. This is part of the learning process. Also, discuss additional options with your advisor. For example, you may prefer to undergo several smaller experiences or one large experience. You may be unable to travel due to local responsibilities, or you may prefer that your practicum experience occur in a new city, state or country.  You may have strong preferences that you wish to incorporate, e.g., a certain illness or injury, a specific population, or a desire to publish a paper or present your findings to boost your resume.
    • Timing – The timing of your practicum is a decision that you and your advisor should reach together. The critical aspect of timing is that it should occur optimally so you are sufficiently prepared and ready for success. Depending on your level of experience and knowledge in the field of public health, your faculty advisor may recommend that you delay your practicum experience until you successfully complete various courses.  We recommend that you begin planning for your practicum at least one semester in advance. If you plan to travel internationally for your practicum, please also allow a few weeks for your student travel to be approved. (See the International Travel tab on this webpage for instructions).
Step 2:

Familiarize yourself with the practicum program.

  • Watch the online practicum orientation. This presentation outlines the major milestones and requirements of your practicum.
  • We encourage you to complete this orientation one full semester prior to your practicum semester.
  • Please note additional instructions for the following situations
    • International students
      • Notify your international advisor early about your intention to pursue a practicum.
      • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) approval is required and this process can be lengthy. We recommend contacting your international advisor while still in the process of looking for an appropriate practicum opportunity.
    • If you are in any of the following concentrations of study, verify with your concentration advisor that the practicum is suitable to your concentration:
      • Global Health
      • Health Disparities
      • Leadership Studies
      • Maternal and Child Health
      • Physical Activity and Health
    • International Practicum: If planning an international practicum...
      • Please e-mail us at practicum@uth.tmc.edu as soon as you find out who your preceptor will be and what organization will hosting your practicum.
      • Provide us with the name of the organization you'll be working with and a brief description of your project. 
      • We will need to request international collaboration agreements with your preceptor through the UTHealth Office of Global Health Initiatives.  These agreements can take several months to negotiate. 
      • You'll also need to receive approval to travel internationally for your practicum.  (See the International Travel tab on this webpage for instructions).

Explore practicum opportunities and prepare to compete for practicum positions.

  • There are many ways to find a practicum that meets your needs. A few options include
    • Review the list of opportunities available at Finding a Practicum.
    • Ask your faculty advisor or another faculty member for recommendations.
    • Network by attending the many lectures presented by visiting guests, who are often leaders in their respective fields. Attending events remotely may involve mastering the art of email and telephone communications with presenters.
    • Talk with your student peers, many of whom work or volunteer in the field of public health.
    • Contact an organization that interests you and develop a practicum on your own.
  • Be prepared to send a resume (with a cover letter), complete an application or interview for the position. If you interview, remember to send a follow-up thank you note.
  • Share your ideas with your faculty advisor, who is tasked with guiding you towards successfully completing your DrPH.
  • Choose an organization in which to conduct your practicum and open discussions to introduce yourself and identify a supervising preceptor. 
Step 4:

Finalize your practicum team.

  • Invite your faculty mentor onto your team.
  • Invite your preceptor (supervisor) onto your team.
  • Meet with your team to discuss your goals, objectives, methods, timelines, final product(s) and any other suggestions (or requirements) made by your preceptor or faculty mentor.
Step 5:

Develop your learning contract.

  • With input from your faculty mentor and preceptor, create your learning contract in the practicum management system. If you have difficulty accessing the learning contract form, try using a different internet browser such as Firefox or Chrome, instead of Explorer.
  • Please save your work often and save before submitting the final versionWe suggest drafting and saving your learning objectives and final product description in a separate Word document.  Then paste the text into the learning contract form.
  • For help with writing learning objectives and choosing a final product, please refer to the Orientation and Training Materials webpage.
  • Major elements of the contract include
    • These are explicit statements that clearly express what you will be able to do after the practicum is complete. The statements must be specific, measurable and observable.
    • Learning objectives: 
      These are explicit statements that clearly express what you will be able to do after the practicum is complete. The statements must be specific, measurable and observable. 
    • Competencies:
      Competencies are descriptions of the capabilities needed to apply a set of related knowledge, skills and abilities. The practicum experience allows DrPH students to formally demonstrate attainment of at least five competencies (three of which must be listed as DrPH foundational competencies).
    • Time commitment:
      We require you, as a DrPH student, to spend a minimum of 180 hours in your practice experience, which may consist of one or more projects and preceptors. You will earn one academic credit per 60 hours of practice and up to three credits may be applied to your DrPH degree.
    • Final product:
      Your final product is a tangible and deliverable artifact of your project. It is of value to your preceptor’s organization. Consider it a culmination of your activities. It should serve as an example of the type of work you are qualified to perform. Moreover, it should reflect the high quality we expect from master’s level students. Examples of suitable final products include a well-organized and well-written report, a manuscript suitable for publication, a scientific journal article, a well-referenced presentation to decision makers or a professional society, a detailed training manual and a comprehensive protocol. The e-Magazine summary article is not a suitable final product.  This list provides some examples of final products.
Step 6:

Finalize your learning contract.

  • Submit your learning contract at least one week prior to the regular registration deadline.
    • Do not wait until the last few days of registration to start your learning contract.  Waiting until the last minute sends a message to your faculty mentor and preceptor that you are not well prepared and places them in the awkward position of reviewing your learning contract within a narrow time frame.  You also run the risk of not receiving a registration code on time.  
  • After you have submitted your learning contract in the online practicum management system, your faculty mentor and preceptor should receive an auto-mail. This auto-email provides your faculty mentor and preceptor with the opportunity to review your learning contract. The auto-emails also contain Approve and Reject buttons so your team can quickly review and either approve or reject the contract or make comments.
  • The faculty mentor and preceptor must approve the learning contract, so begin this process earlier. Once they approve the contract, the system will prompt the practicum administrative team to review the contract to ensure minimal requirements are met and all of the elements are in place. We will not approve contracts that lack formal faculty and preceptor approval.
  • If you are not located at the Houston campus, forward a copy of your approved learning contract to your Campus Coordinator.
  • Upon reviewing your learning contract, we will send a one-page Letter of Affiliation for your preceptor's organization to sign.  If the organization already has a signed Letter of Affiliation or current agreement on file with us, we will not ask them to sign another letter.  Some organizations, however, have their own agreements that they want UTHealth to review and sign.  If you receive a request to complete an agreement for your practicum, please forward the request to our attention at practicum@uth.tmc.edu
  • We follow a separate procedure for agreements with international preceptors, as these are negotiated by the Office of Global Health Initiatives (see Step 1).
Step 7:

Consider special provisions and follow special instructions, if applicable.

  • International Students: Discuss your project with international advisor.  You must receive approval from the Office of International Affairs before beginning work on your practicum. Follow the additional instructions under the International Students tab on this webpage.  Please allow 10 working days for the Office of International Affairs to approve your practicum.
  • Students Traveling Internationally: Follow the additional instructions under the International Travel tab on this webpage. You must receive approval to travel internationally. In addition the UTHealth Office of Global Health Initiatives requires us to initiate a separate Memorandum of Understanding and Program agreement. (We will send this information to your preceptor). As the amount of time to establish these agreements can take up to several months, we ask that you inform of any plans to conduct an international practicum as soon as possible.
  • Concentration Students: Discuss your project with your concentration advisor.
  • Archer Fellows: Discuss your project with Dr. Rios (Janelle.Rios@uth.tmc.edu).
  • Community Health Practice (CHP) Core III DrPH Students
  • STEER MD/MPH Students: Contact the Office of Public Health Practice (Practicum@uth.tmc.edu)
  • Texas Tech MD/MPH Students: Contact the Office of Public Health Practice (Practicum@uth.tmc.edu)
Step 8:

Receive your registration approval code and register.

  • At this point, you’ve reviewed the practicum orientation and  your preceptor and faculty mentor have approved your learning contract. You also  have followed the instructions for any special circumstances that apply to your practicum.
  • The practicum office will review your learning contract and will contact you if any changes are necessary.
  • The practicum office will send you an authorization code. This code will allow you to register for the practicum experience, PH9997.
  • Register for PH9997.
  • Remember, to graduate all DrPH students must complete three practicum credits.  While enrolling in additional credit hours can enrich your public health experience, only three practicum credit hours count toward your degree.
Step 9:

Learn from your preceptor and faculty mentor and enjoy your practicum experience!

  • Begin your practicum. Conduct the activities you described in your learning contract, including meeting with the practicum team.
  • If there are minor changes to your learning contract, contact the practicum office at Practicum@uth.tmc.edu
  • Complete your practicum by sharing your final product(s) with your faculty mentor and preceptor.
  • Complete the practicum evaluation, which we will e-mail to you.
  • Feel free to share photos and a brief description of your practicum.  You may e-mail these to Practicum@uth.tmc.edu.

Questions?

Contact: Practicum@uth.tmc.edu

Welcome

Thank you for your interest in our practicum program!  We greatly appreciate the effort and expertise each preceptor dedicates to this program.  Serving as a preceptor, you not only contribute to the education and training of our students but also help shape the future of public health!

Preceptor’s Role

As a preceptor your role is to advise, train, supervise, and evaluate the student.  Specifically, you will

  • Discuss details of the practicum with the student and faculty mentor.  What will be the student’s day-to-day activities?  What expectations do you have for the student?  The practicum should both further the student’s public health interests and career goals and benefit your organization.
  • Help the student define learning objectives and identify a final product that will be meaningful to both the student and your organization.
  • Approve the student’s online learning contract.
  • Inform the student in advance of any site-specific requirements that the student will need to complete prior to starting his or her practicum.
  • Forward our affiliation and program agreements to an authorized signing official at your organization for review and approval.
  • Provide any necessary training for the student to safely and successfully complete his/her practicum activities.
  • Supervise the student’s practicum.
  • Complete an online evaluation of the student’s performance at the end of the semester.

Please note:  It is the student’s responsibility to take charge of his/her practicum.  Developing the leadership skills to conceive of and follow a project through to completion is one of the goals of this experience!  

Serving as a Preceptor
Step 1:

Post a specific or general practicum opportunity or respond to a student’s request to host a practicum.

There are three different routes to becoming a preceptor: 

  • If you do not have a specific practicum opportunity but wish to host a practicum student, see Option A.
  • If you have already a defined practicum opportunity in mind, see Option B.
  • If a student has pitched a practicum opportunity to you and you’re interested in taking on the role of preceptor, see Option C. 

Option A: List Your Organization as a Preceptor Site on our Website

Follow the steps below if you do not have a specific practicum opportunity in mind but wish to host a practicum student:

  • Complete sections I-III of the Practicum Opportunity Form.
  • You do not need to complete section IV of this form unless a question in this section applies generally to what you have in mind for a practicum.  For instance, if you are interested in working with students in only a specific degree program, please indicate this on the form.  
  • E-mail the form to practicum@uth.tmc.edu.
  • Alternatively, you may send an e-mail about your interest to practicum@uth.tmc.edu.
  • We will post your organization and contact information on our practicum website.  
  • If a student is interested in working with you on a potential practicum project, he or she will contact you.

Option B: Follow the steps below if you have a defined practicum opportunity that you wish to advertise on our Practicum website.

  • Complete the attached Practicum Opportunity Form.
  • Fill in as much information about the opportunity as you can.
  • E-mail the form to practicum@uth.tmc.edu.
  • Alternatively, you may forward a practicum opportunity directly to us in an e-mail to practicum@uth.tmc.edu.  We will follow up with you if we need more information.
  • Students interested in your practicum opportunity will contact you as you instruct on the form. 
  • If you wish to receive resumes or other application materials for potential practicum students, please provide these instructions on the form or in your practicum posting.

Option C:  Responding to a Student’s Request for a Practicum

If one of our students has pitched a practicum opportunity to you and you wish to host this student, there is no need for you to post an opportunity to our website.   

Step 2:

Assist the student with developing a learning contract.

To register for the practicum course, the student first submits a brief learning contract.

  • The learning contract defines the student’s methodology, 3-5 learning objectives, and at least one final product.  It will list information about the preceptor, the host site, and the faculty mentor.  It will also include the number of hours per week the student expects to spend on the practicum; the start and end date of the practicum activities; whether or not the student will receive a stipend; and, how often the practicum team should meet.  Please assist the student with these details.
  • To receive a passing grade, the student is required to spend at least 180 hours on practicum activities.  This is the equivalent of at least 12 hours per week for 15 weeks.
  • Once the learning contract is ready for your approval, you will receive an automatically-generated e-mail from the practicum site.  Click on the hyperlink, review the contract, and click the “Approve” or “Reject” option accordingly.  If you reject the contract, let the student know why you rejected it.
  • The faculty mentor also approves the learning contract.
  • The practicum office will provide a final review and approval of the learning contract.
  • The practicum office will send a registration code to the student.  (To receive academic credit for the practicum, the student must register for the practicum course). 
Step 3:

Route Letter of Affiliation for approval by your organization.

  • We will ask your organization to review and sign a one-page letter affiliation agreement with our school.
  • UTHealth has separate agreements, a Memorandum of Understanding and Program Agreement, for international preceptors. These agreements are negotiated by the UTHealth Office of Global Health Initiatives and take longer to approve.
  • Your organization's signing official, or someone who is authorized to sign agreements on behalf of your organization, should review and sign the Letter of Affiliation or Memorandum of Understanding and Program Agreement.
  • Alternatively, our Office of Legal Affairs can also review any agreements in lieu of, or in addition to, our Letter of Affiliation.
Step 4:

Supervise the Practicum.

Once the learning contract is approved and the student has registered for the course, the student may start his/her practicum activities.  The official start date for the practicum is specified in the learning contract.

  • Orient the student to the practicum job site, safety procedures, and other workplace expectations.
  • Direct the student’s on-site activities and monitor the student’s progress.
  • Meet with the student and (if possible) the faculty mentor to assess the student’s progress and answer questions.  The faculty mentor is responsible for monitoring the student's progress on the practicum and providing guidance when needed.
Step 5:

Evaluate the Student’s Performance

At the end of the semester, you will receive an e-mail with a link to an online survey.  The survey will ask you to evaluate the student's performance on the practicum.  We'll also seek your comments about our practicum program,

  • Please complete this survey completely and promptly.  The faculty mentor considers your assessment of the student in assigning a final grade.

Questions?

Contact: Practicum@uth.tmc.edu

Faculty Mentors

Thank you for serving a faculty mentor on your student’s practicum!  You will help guide your student through an experience that can lead to future employment opportunities for your student and potential research contacts for you. 
 
Specifically, your role is to support the practicum in the following ways:
  • Assist your student with finding and choosing a practicum based on his/her public health interests and career goals.
  • Help your student decide when is the best time to start a practicum.
  • Assist your student with defining meaningful learning objectives.
  • Advise your student on creating a meaningful final product that is beneficial to the preceptor’s organization.
  • Review and approve the final learning contract. 
  • Communicate regularly with your student.  
  • Participate in meetings with the student and preceptor.
  • Monitor the progress of the student's practicum.
  • If necessary, provide guidance or intervene on your student's behalf if he or she is having trouble with a preceptor or a host site.
  • Assess your student’s performance on the practicum and assign a grade (pass, fail, or incomplete).
 
Please note:  It is the student’s responsibility to initiate and lead the steps to completing a successful practicum.  Developing the leadership skills to conceive of and follow a project through to completion is one of the goals of this experience! 

Questions?

Contact: Practicum@uth.tmc.edu

International Travel Guidelines for Practicum Students

Students traveling internationally for their practicum must submit travel documents for review and approval.   Please contact our office at practicum@uth.tmc.edu as soon as possible if you are planning an international practicum--even if your final travel plans are not yet confirmed.  Approvals for international travel can take several weeks. 

1.)  Read and follow the Student International Travel Requirements.

2.)  Read and follow the Step-by-Step Guide for Students Traveling Internationally 

3.)  If you are an international student, consult with your international advisor about your practicum and your travel plans.

4.)  Check the U.S. Department of State's list of Travel Warnings and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC)'s Travel Notices for each destination that you're traveling to, including any stopovers/connections for your flight.  

  • Follow the same instructions if travel destinations or connecting flights for your practicum appear on the CDC's Warning Level 3 list.
    • Keep a printout of the submitted online form for your travel records.
    • The Office of Global Health Initiatives and the International Travel Oversight Committee will review your request and provide further instructions. Their review usually takes 3-4 weeks.
    • For more information, refer to the Travel to Restricted Countries webpage.
  • Try to avoid connecting flights/layovers in a country under a travel warning, if possible.

NOTE as of January 2018: The U.S. Department of State has recently revised its travel advisory system. UTHealth is awaiting further instructions regarding these changes.  In the meantime, please refer to this list of countries under travel warnings and the above procedure until further notice.  

5.)  Complete and submit your learning contract.

6.)  Contact Corporate Travel Planners (CTP) at 866-366-1142 to book your airfare.

  • You must use CTP to book your airfare if UTHealth is funding your trip or reimbursing you for any part of your trip.

7.) Create a detailed travel agenda for each leg of your trip. See example.

  • Please list the start and end dates of your practicum on a separate line.
  • For personal travel, include the start and end date and note the purpose as "personal' or "vacation."
  • Include separate entries for connecting flights/layovers.

8.)  Register your trip details with International SOS. International SOS is an emergency response organization whose services are available at no cost to students who are travelling on university business (which includes practicum).  Entering your trip details in ISOS will enable to the service to locate and contact in case of an emergency.

  • Log in at https://www.internationalsos.com and use membership ID 11BSGC000037.
  • Enter your trip details in the My Trips section.  If you purchased your flight through CTP, your flights should already appear in your My Trips record.
  • Enter a contact phone number that may be used to contact you during your travel.
  • Enter your lodging information for the practicum (university business) segment(s) of your travel.
  • Provide at least one emergency contact in the emergency record section.  If possible, please include at least one emergency contact in the U.S.
  • Print out the International SOS screens showing your name and My Trips.
  • Review the International SOS Insurance for Travelers on University Business webpage.
  • Print out the benefit brochure and International SOS ID card and take these with you when you travel.
  • Be sure to bring your current medical insurance card with you when you travel.

9.)   Complete and sign the Student International Travel for Practicum Application form.

10.) Check that the travel dates in your documents match.  Your airline ticket, International SOS, and detailed agenda should all have matching start-end dates for each leg of your travel.  Conflicting travel dates on these documents will slow down the approval of your travel request.

11.)  E-mail the documents below to the Office of Public Health Practice at Practicum@uth.tmc.edu.  

  • Student International Travel for Practicum Application
  • Travel agenda
  • International SOS printouts showing your name and My Trips.
  • Flight itinerary showing the the departure/arrival time for all departures and destinations, including connecting flights. 
    • If you have not yet purchased an airline ticket, you may still send your request with the other travel documents for our review. 
    • Please note in your e-mail that you have not yet purchased your airline ticket.
  •  Application for Exemption from Travel Restrictions printout or e-mail from Office of Global Health Initiatives stating that an Application for Exemption is not required for your trips.  This step is required only if your practicum travel destinations are under a travel warning.
  • Learning Contract

12.) Once the practicum office has received your travel documents, we'll complete a Request for Travel Authorization form (RTA) on your behalf. We will e-mail you the RTA form for your signature, so please check your UTHealth e-mail account for this form.

  • Sign the RTA as the Traveler and route it back to the practicum office.
  • We will route the RTA and travel paperwork for approval by the School of Public Health Dean's Office.
  • Travel lasting more than 29 days will also require the UTHealth President's signature on the RTA.
  • Approvals from the Office of Public Health Practice, Dean's Office, and President's Office usually take 6 weeks but can take longer during peak times.

13.)  If your travel plans change after you've received approval, please notify the practicum office at Practicum@uth.tmc.edu of the changes. You'll also need to update your International SOS.  

*For further guidance, please refer to a PowerPoint presentation on International Practicum, located on the Orientation and Training Materials webpage.

Requirements for International Students Enrolling in Practicum

Please review and follow the steps below.

International students must receive approval from the Office of International Affairs before beginning work on a practicum.  Please allow a minimum of 10 business days for the Office of International Affairs to review your documents. 

  1. Consult your international advisor.
  2. Obtain a letter on organization letterhead from your preceptor specifying the beginning and ending dates of the practicum, your practicum learning objectives, hours per week, location of your practicum, and whether the practicum is paid or unpaid. If an unpaid position converts to a paid position during the semester, or vice versa, contact the Office of International Affairs immediately.
  3. Read and complete the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) form.
  4. Complete the practicum orientation and complete and submit your learning contract.
  5. After your learning contract has been approved, register for practicum PH 9997.
  6. Forward a copy of the learning contract, CPT form, and preceptor letter to the Director of Enrollment in the Office of Student Affairs (John Adams: 713-500-9033; email: John.Adams@uth.tmc.edu). Mr. Adams will have the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs/Director of Student Affairs sign your CPT form.
  7. Submit the signed CPT form, a copy of your learning contract, your preceptor letter, and the other documents specified on the CPT from to the Office of International Affairs.
  8. Receive endorsement of I-20 from the Office of International Affairs.
  9. If you are traveling internationally for your practicum and CPT approval is not applicable, you should still consult with your international advisor on your travel and practicum.  See also the tab for International Travel Guidelines on the main Practicum webpage.
  10. You must receive approval from the Office of International Affairs before beginning work on your practicum.