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 develop a unique and exciting project that will enhance your skills and benefit your community. 

Because an applied practice experience is critical to earning a master’s degree in public health, we require all MPH students to complete a practicum. 

Step 1:

Consider your public health interests, your academic goals and the ideal timing for your practicum.

  • What kind of practicum would further your public health interests, knowledge and experiences? 
    • Are you interested in learning a specific skill? If so, choose activities that will require you to practice this skill. 
    • Do you want to work in a specific industry?  If so, the contacts you make and the quality of your work during practicum are especially important.
    • Do you want to tackle a specific public health problem?  If so, consider working with an organization or preceptor whose work is dedicated to this concern.
    • 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?  If so, 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. 
  • Discuss your career goals and public health interests with your faculty advisor.
    • Propose your ideas for a practicum to your advisor.
    • Discuss how you can apply the knowledge and skills you have learned as a public health student toward this practicum.
    • Discuss the feasibility of your proposed practicum. For example, will you be able to travel for your practicum? Can you expect to finish your proposed project within a reasonable timeframe?
    • Your faculty advisor does not necessarily have to serve as your faculty mentor for practicum. If your advisor’s expertise does not align with your ideas for a practicum, then your advisor may recommend--or you may yourself identify--another faculty member to serve as your faculty mentor. Your faculty mentor, however, must be UTHealth School of Public Health faculty.
        • You should begin planning at least one semester before you intend to enroll in practicum. If you need to travel internationally for your practicum, you should begin planning at least 6-9 months in advance.
        • What semester to begin your practicum is a decision that you and your advisor or faculty mentor should reach together.  You should begin your practicum only when you and your faculty advisor or mentor agree that you are prepared. Depending on your level of experience, your faculty advisor may recommend that you delay your practicum experience until you complete specific courses.
        Step 2:

        Become familiar with the practicum program and its requirements.

        • To graduate each MPH student must earn at least three practicum credits.  
          • Each academic credit requires 60 hours of practicum, so you must spend at least 180 hours in your practicum experience.
          • You may propose more than one practicum to achieve 180 hours of practicum.
          • You may enroll in more than three practicum credits, but only three practicum credits count toward your degree.
        • Each practicum requires a faculty mentor and a preceptor or site supervisor. 
          • Your faculty mentor will approve, oversee, and grade your practicum.
          • Your preceptor will oversee your work at the organization where you will complete your practicum (host organization).
          • Before registering for practicum, you will develop and receive approval of a learning contract. (See steps 5-6 below).  
        • Review the online practicum orientation, which outlines major milestones and requirements of your practicum. We encourage you to complete this orientation at least one semester before you intend to register for practicum.  Please note additional steps are required for the situations described below.
        • If you are enrolled in any of the following concentrations, 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
        • Discuss your project with the Office of Public Health Practice (practicum@uth.tmc.edu) if you are a student in any of the following programs:
          • Archer Fellows: Discuss your project with Public Health Practice Director Janelle Rios, PhD 
          • Community Health Practice (CHP) Core III DrPH Students
          • STEER MD/MPH Students
          • Texas Tech MD/MPH Students
        • International practicum
          • If you plan to travel internationally for your practicum, e-mail the Office of Public Health Practice at practicum@uth.tmc.edu as soon as you find out who will be hosting your international practicum. 
          • The Office of Public Health Practice will initiate a program agreement with your international host through the Office of Global Health Initiatives.  Negotiating this agreement can take several months, so the earlier we can initiate the agreement, the better. 
          • See the Practicum Travel webpage for instructions to obtain the necessary approvals to travel for your practicum.
        • International students
          • Notify your international advisor early about your intention to pursue a practicum.
          • You must receive Curricular Practical Training (CPT) approval through the Office of International Affairs before you begin your project.
          • Please allow at least 10 working days for the Office of International Affairs to provide CPT approval.
          • To help you prepare for this step, review the guidance on the International Students tab of this webpage.
        • Onboarding requirements
          • Be aware that some organizations, especially medical facilities, require students working at their sites to complete onboarding requirements.  
          • These prerequisites may include providing proof of immunizations, completing a drug or health screening, performing a criminal background check, completing HIPPA training or other requirements.
          • Meeting these prerequisites could delay your practicum start date.  Keep this in mind when planning your practicum and remember to ask your preceptor about any potential onboarding requirements.
        • Human Subjects Research
          • If you think your practicum may involve human subjects research, please discuss your proposed activities with your faculty mentor and the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS).
          • If your practicum project will involve human subjects research, you must seek Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval by the UTHealth CPHS prior to beginning your practicum.
          • Refer to the "Practicum Involving Human Subjects Research Guide" on the practicum Orientation and Training Materials webpage.
        • Human Subjects Training and HIPPA Training
          • If your practicum project will involve human subjects research, you must complete a course in protection of human subjects before you can begin your practicum.
          • If your practicum will involve working with protected health information (PHI), regardless of whether your activities constitute research, you must complete a course in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) training. 
          • To meet these training requirements, complete an online CITI course in human subjects research, which is free to UTHealth students.
          • For step-by-step instructions to register for and complete the CITI course, refer to the "CITI Human Subjects and HIPPA Training" instructions on the practicum Orientation and Training Materials webpage.
          • If you will be working with PHI at a site external to UTHealth, ask your preceptor if your host organization provides site-specific HIPPA training.
        • Animal Research
          • If you think your practicum may involve research on animal subjects or animal derived materials, discuss your proposed activities with your faculty mentor and the Animal Welfare Committee.
          • All research using animal subjects or animal derived materials must be submitted to the AWC before the project begins.
          • If conducting animal research on an approved project, you should be added to the existing protocol before beginning your work.
          • UTHealth faculty with approved protocols must assure the AWC that students involved in animal research are adequately trained. The Center for Laboratory Animal Medicine and Care (CLAMC) provides this training at UTHealth.
          Step 3:

          Explore practicum opportunities and prepare to compete for practicum positions.

              • There are many ways to find a practicum. A few options include
                • Review the list of opportunities available at Find a Practicum. To access this site, you must be logged into the UTHealth intranet.
                • 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.
                • Establish 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.
              • Introduce yourself to a contact at the organization or a preceptor with whom you would like to work.
                • Explore the organization's website to learn more about the organization's work, mission and objectives.
                • Discuss your ideas for a practicum project.
                • Explain how you may be able to help this organization.
                • Ask your potential preceptor how you may be able to further the organization's mission or goals.
              • Be prepared to apply for a practicum or internship opportunity.
                • Update your resume.
                • Expect to write a cover and interview for the opportunity.
                • After interviewing with a potential preceptor, send a thank-you note.
                • Refer to the Career Services webpage for resources to help you improve your application materials and prepare for an interview.
          Step 4:

          Finalize your practicum team.

              • Invite your faculty mentor onto your team.
              • Invite your preceptor onto your team. 
              • Meet with your team to discuss your goals, objectives, methods, timelines, final product(s) and any other suggestions or requirements for your practicum.
              • If your preceptor needs UTHealth to sign an affiliation or program agreement before you begin your practicum, please forward these documents to practicum@uth.tmc.edu
                • The Office of Public Health Practice also has a one-page Letter of Affiliation that we provide to host organizations with whom we do not already have a signed agreement for practicum.
          Step 5:

          Develop your learning contract.

              • Create your learning contract in the online 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 Internet 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 online learning contract form.
              • Major elements of the learning contract include
              • Learning Objectives:
                Specific, measurable and observable statements that outline milestones for your practicum.
              • Competencies:
                Describe the skills or abilities needed to apply a set of related knowledge, skills or abilities. Competencies should inform or guide your practicum learning objectives. 
              • Time commitment:
                As an MPH student, you must earn at least three practicum credits before you graduate.  You earn one academic credit per 60 hours of practicum, so your total practicum hours before graduation must be at least 180 hours.  
                • Final products:  
                  • Students enrolling in practicum for the summer and fall 2018 semesters must complete at least one final product.
                  • Students enrolling in practicum for the spring 2019 and later semesters must complete at least two final products. 
                  • Your final products are tangible artifacts of your practicum, a culmination of your practicum activities.
                  • Your final products should be of value to the host organization.
                  • Your final products should reflect the high quality we expect from master’s level students. 
          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 few days of registration 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 may not receive a registration code on time.
              • After you have submitted your learning contract in the Practicum Management System, your faculty mentor and preceptor should receive an automatic e-mail. 
                • This auto-email contains your learning contract and approve and reject buttons, which allow your preceptor and faculty mentor to easily review and approve/reject the contract within the body of the message.
                • Monitor your UTHealth e-mail account for comments from your faculty mentor or preceptor.
                • Follow up with your preceptor and/or faculty mentor if you do not receive a response within a few business days. The automatic e-mail may have been blocked as spam mail by your preceptor's organization.
              • Once both your preceptor and faculty mentor have approved the learning contract, the Office of Public Health Practice will review the contract..
                • We cannot approve learning contracts that do not have your faculty mentor's approval.
                • We check your proposed project for completeness, clarity, and compliance with our minimal requirements for a practicum.
                • Please allow at least three business days for our review.
                • We will e-mail any required changes to you and copy your faculty mentor. Monitor your UTHealth e-mail account.
                • We will e-mail your practicum registration code after approving your learning contract.
              • Upon reviewing your learning contract, the Office of Public Health Practice will send a one-page Letter of Affiliation for your preceptor's organization to sign. 
                • If the organization already has a signed agreement on file with us, we will not ask them to sign another agreement. 
                • Some organizations have their own affiliation agreement or program agreement 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 2).
          Step 7:

          Obtain additional approvals required for your practicum.

              • Before beginning your practicum, obtain any additional approvals, such as travel or IRB approvals, discussed in Step 2. 
              • If applicable to your practicum, complete CITI training in human subjects research and HIPPA training, as discussed in Step 2.
              • Complete any onboarding requirements, as discussed in Step 2. If your host organization requires verification from UTHealth that you have met specific onboarding requirements, please contact the Office of Public Health Practice (practicum@uth.tmc.edu) for assistance.
          Step 8:

          Receive your registration approval code and register.

              • After approving your learning contract, the Office of Public Health Practice will e-mail you a registration code for practicum (course PH9997).
              • When registering, be sure to select the correct number of credits (one credit for every 60 hours of practicum).  MyUTH system defaults to only one credit.
          Step 9:

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

              • Begin your practicum after you have attained all required approvals and met any prerequisites. (See Step 2).
              • Conduct the activities described in your learning contract, including meeting with the practicum team.
                • At minimum, provide an update to your faculty mentor by midsemester. 
                • The Office of Public Health Practice will e-mail you midsemester to remind you to update your faculty mentor.
                • If you need to make changes to your learning contract, e-mail your changes to practicum@uth.tmc.edu and copy your faculty mentor and preceptor.
              • Complete your final product(s).
                • Discuss a timeline for turning in your final product(s) with your preceptor and faculty mentor.
                • You do not need to send your final products to the Office of Public Health Practice.
              • Notify the Office of Public Health Practice and your faculty mentor if you find you will not be able to complete your practicum by the end of the semester.
              • Complete the practicum evaluation, which the practicum will e-mail to you near the end of the semester.
                • The Office of Public Health Practice will e-mail your preceptor an evaluation near the end of the semester. 
                • We will send your preceptor's completed evaluation to your faculty mentor.
                • Your faculty mentor will assign your practicum grade (pass/fail/incomplete).
              • Enjoy your practicum!
                • Feel free to share your experiences with our office.
                • You may e-mail your comment 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 participation with your preceptor. Examples of DrPH practicum 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 public health interests, your academic goals and the ideal timing for your practicum.

        • What kind of practicum would further your public health interests, knowledge and experiences? 
          • Are you interested in learning a specific skill? If so, choose activities that will require you to practice this skill. 
          • Do you want to work in a specific industry?  If so, the contacts you make and the quality of your work during practicum are especially important.
          • Do you want to tackle a specific public health problem?  If so, consider working with an organization or preceptor whose work is dedicated to this concern.
          • 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?  If so, 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. 
        • Discuss your career goals and public health interests with your faculty advisor.
          • Propose your ideas for a practicum to your advisor.
          • Discuss how you can apply the knowledge and skills you have learned as a public health student toward this practicum.
          • Discuss the feasibility of your proposed practicum. For example, will you be able to travel for your practicum? Can you expect to finish your proposed project within a reasonable timeframe?
          • Your faculty advisor does not necessarily have to serve as your faculty mentor for practicum. If your advisor’s expertise does not align with your ideas for a practicum, then your advisor may recommend--or you may yourself identify--another faculty member to serve as your faculty mentor. Your faculty mentor, however, must be UTHealth School of Public Health faculty.
              • You should begin planning at least one semester before you intend to enroll in practicum. If you want to travel internationally for your practicum, you should begin planning at least 6-9 months in advance.
              • What semester to begin your practicum is a decision that you and your advisor or faculty mentor should reach together. You should begin your practicum only when you and your faculty advisor or mentor agree that you are prepared. Depending on your level of experience, your faculty advisor may recommend that you delay your practicum experience until you complete specific courses.
              Step 2:

              Become familiar with the practicum program and its requirements.

              • To graduate each DrPH student must earn at least three practicum credits.  
                • Each academic credit requires 60 hours of practicum, so you must spend at least 180 hours in your practicum experience.
                • You may propose more than one practicum to achieve 180 hours of practicum.
                • You may enroll in more than three practicum credits, but only three practicum credits count toward your degree.
              • Each practicum requires a faculty mentor and a preceptor or site supervisor. 
                • Your faculty mentor will approve, oversee, and grade your practicum.
                • Your preceptor will oversee your work at the organization where you will complete your practicum (host organization).
                • Before registering for practicum, you will develop and receive approval of a learning contract. (See steps 5-6 below).  
              • Review the online practicum orientation, which outlines major milestones and requirements of your practicum. We encourage you to complete this orientation at least one semester before you intend to register for the course.  Please note additional steps are required for the situations described below.
              • If you are enrolled in any of the following concentrations, 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
              • Discuss your project with the Office of Public Health Practice (practicum@uth.tmc.edu) if you are a student in any of the following programs:
                • Archer Fellows: Discuss your project with Public Health Practice Director Janelle Rios, PhD 
                • Community Health Practice (CHP) Core III DrPH Students
              • International practicum
                • If you plan to travel internationally for your practicum, e-mail the Office of Public Health Practice at practicum@uth.tmc.edu as soon as you find out who will be hosting your international practicum. 
                • The Office of Public Health Practice will initiate a program agreement with your international host through the Office of Global Health Initiatives.  Negotiating this agreement can take several months, so the earlier we can initiate the agreement, the better. 
                • See the Practicum Travel webpage for instructions to obtain the necessary approvals to travel for your practicum.
              • International students
                • Notify your international advisor early about your intention to pursue a practicum.
                • You must receive Curricular Practical Training (CPT) approval through the Office of International Affairs before you begin your project.
                • Please allow at least 10 working days for the Office of International Affairs to provide CPT approval.
                • To help you prepare for this step, review the guidance on the International Students tab of this webpage.
              • Onboarding requirements
                • Be aware that some organizations, especially medical facilities, require students working at their sites to complete onboarding requirements.  
                • These prerequisites may include providing proof of immunizations, completing a drug or health screening, performing a criminal background check, completing HIPPA training or other requirements.
                • Meeting these prerequisites could delay your practicum start date.  Keep this in mind when planning your practicum and remember to ask your preceptor about any potential onboarding requirements.
              • Human Subjects Research
                • If you think your practicum may involve human subjects research, please discuss your proposed activities with your faculty mentor and the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS).
                • If your practicum project will involve human subjects research, you must seek Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval by the UTHealth CPHS prior to beginning your practicum.
                • Refer to the "Practicum Involving Human Subjects Research Guide" on the practicum Orientation and Training Materials webpage.
              • Human Subjects Training and HIPPA Training
                • If your practicum project will involve human subjects research, you must complete a course in protection of human subjects before you can begin your practicum.
                • If your practicum will involve working with protected health information (PHI), regardless of whether your activities constitute research, you must complete a course in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) training. 
                • To meet these training requirements, complete an online CITI course in human subjects research, which is free to UTHealth students.
                • For step-by-step instructions to register for and complete the CITI course, refer to the "CITI Human Subjects and HIPPA Training" instructions on the practicum Orientation and Training Materials webpage.
                • If you will be working with PHI at a site external to UTHealth, ask your preceptor if your host organization provides site-specific HIPPA training.
              • Animal Research
                • If you think your practicum may involve research on animal subjects or animal derived materials, discuss your proposed activities with your faculty mentor and the Animal Welfare Committee.
                • All research using animal subjects or animal derived materials must be submitted to the AWC before the project begins.
                • If conducting animal research on an approved project, you should be added to the existing protocol before beginning your work.
                • UTHealth faculty with approved protocols must assure the AWC that students involved in animal research are adequately trained. The Center for Laboratory Animal Medicine and Care (CLAMC) provides this training at UTHealth.
                Step 3:

                Explore practicum opportunities and prepare to compete for practicum positions.

                • There are many ways to find a practicum. A few options include
                  • Review the list of opportunities available at Find a Practicum. To access this site, you must be logged into the UTHealth intranet.
                  • 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.
                  • Establish 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.
                • Introduce yourself to a contact at the organization or a preceptor with whom you would like to work.
                  • Explore the organization's website to learn more about the organization's work, mission and objectives.
                  • Discuss your ideas for a practicum project.
                  • Explain how you may be able to help this organization.
                  • Ask your potential preceptor how you may be able to further the organization's mission or goals.
                • Be prepared to apply for a practicum or internship opportunity.
                  • Update your resume.
                  • Expect to write a cover and interview for the opportunity.
                  • After interviewing with a potential preceptor, send a thank-you note.
                  • Refer to the Career Services webpage for resources to help you improve your application materials and prepare for an interview.
                Step 4:

                Finalize your practicum team.

                • Invite your faculty mentor onto your team.
                • Invite your preceptor onto your team. 
                • Meet with your team to discuss your goals, objectives, methods, timelines, final product(s) and any other suggestions or requirements for your practicum.
                • If your preceptor needs UTHealth to sign an affiliation or program agreement before you begin your practicum, please forward these documents to practicum@uth.tmc.edu
                  • The Office of Public Health Practice also have a one-page Letter of Affiliation that we provide to host organizations with whom we do not already have a signed agreement for practicum.
                Step 5:

                Develop your learning contract.

                • Create your learning contract in the online 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 Internet 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 online learning contract form.
                • Major elements of the learning contract include
                  • Learning Objectives:
                    Specific, measurable and observable statements that outline milestones for your practicum.
                  • Competencies:
                    Describe the skills or abilities needed to apply a set of related knowledge, skills or abilities. Competencies should inform or guide your practicum learning objectives. 
                  • Time commitment:
                    You must earn at least three practicum credits to complete your DrPH degree. You earn one academic credit per 60 hours of practicum, so your total practicum hours before graduation must be at least 180 hours.  
                  • Final products:  
                    • Students enrolling in practicum for the summer and fall 2018 semesters must complete at least one final product.
                    • Students enrolling in practicum for the spring 2019 and later semesters must complete at least two final products. 
                    • Your final products are tangible artifacts of your practicum, a culmination of your practicum activities.
                    • Your final products should be of value to the host organization.
                    • Your final products should reflect the high quality we expect from doctoral level students. 
                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 may not receive a registration code on time.
                • After you have submitted your learning contract in the Practicum Management System, your faculty mentor and preceptor should receive an automatic e-mail. 
                  • This auto-email contains your learning contract and approve and reject buttons, which allow your preceptor and faculty mentor to easily review and approve/reject the contract within the body of the message.
                  • Monitor your UTHealth e-mail account for comments from your faculty mentor or preceptor.
                  • Follow up with your preceptor and/or faculty mentor if you do not receive a response within a few business days. The automatic e-mail may have been blocked as spam mail by your preceptor's organization.
                • Once both your preceptor and faculty mentor have approved the learning contract, the Office of Public Health Practice will review the contract.
                  • We cannot approve learning contracts that do not have your faculty mentor's approval.
                  • We check your proposed project for completeness, clarity and compliance with our minimal requirements for a practicum.
                  • Please allow at least three business days for our review.
                  • We will e-mail any required changes to you and copy your faculty mentor. Monitor your UTHealth e-mail account.
                  • We will e-mail your practicum registration code after approving your learning contract.
                • Upon reviewing your learning contract, the Office of Public Health Practice will send a one-page Letter of Affiliation for your preceptor's organization to sign. 
                  • If the organization already has a signed agreement on file with us, we will not ask them to sign another agreement. 
                  • Some organizations have their own affiliation agreement or program agreement 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 2).
                Step 7:

                Obtain additional approvals required for your practicum.

                • Before beginning your practicum, obtain any additional approvals, such as travel or IRB approvals, discussed in Step 2. 
                • If applicable to your practicum, complete CITI training in human subjects research and HIPPA training, as discussed in Step 2.
                • Complete any onboarding requirements, as discussed in Step 2. If your host organization requires verification from UTHealth that you have met specific onboarding requirements, please contact the Office of Public Health Practice (practicum@uth.tmc.edu) for assistance.
                Step 8:

                Receive your registration approval code and register.

                • After approving your learning contract, the Office of Public Health Practice will e-mail you a registration code for practicum (course PH9997).
                • When registering, be sure to select the correct number of credits (one credit for every 60 hours of practicum).  MyUTH system defaults to only one credit.
                Step 9:

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

                • Begin your practicum after you have attained all required approvals and met any prerequisites. (See Step 2).
                • Conduct the activities described in your learning contract, including meeting with the practicum team.
                  • At minimum, provide an update to your faculty mentor by midsemester. 
                  • The Office of Public Health Practice will e-mail you midsemester to remind you to update your faculty mentor.
                  • If you need to make changes to your learning contract, e-mail your changes to practicum@uth.tmc.edu and copy your faculty mentor and preceptor.
                • Complete your final product(s).
                  • Discuss a timeline for turning in your final product(s) with your preceptor and faculty mentor.
                  • You do not need to send your final products to the Office of Public Health Practice.
                • Notify the Office of Public Health Practice and your faculty mentor if you find you will not be able to complete your practicum by the end of the semester.
                • Complete the practicum evaluation, which the practicum will e-mail to you near the end of the semester.
                  • The Office of Public Health Practice will e-mail your preceptor an evaluation near the end of the semester. 
                  • We will send your preceptor's completed evaluation to your faculty mentor.
                  • Your faculty mentor will assign your practicum grade (pass/fail/incomplete).
                • Enjoy your practicum!
                  • Feel free to share your experiences with our office.
                  • You may e-mail your comment to our general mailbox (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!

              For a short, printable guide to serving as a preceptor, click here: Practicum Guide for Preceptors.

              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 faculty mentor and the practicum office are responsible for ensuring that proposed project meets our school's accreditation and academic requirements.  Preceptors, however, may recommend or request changes to the learning contract, which are subject to approval by the faculty mentor.
              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--if an existing agreement is not already in place.
              • 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.
              • Alternatively, our Office of Legal Affairs can also review any agreements in lieu of, or in addition to, our Letter of Affiliation.
              • UTHealth has a lengthier program agreement for international preceptors. These agreements are negotiated by the UTHealth Office of Global Health Initiatives.
              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.
              • Assess your student's readiness for practicum, especially if s/he has not yet completed core courses.
              • Advise your student with applying for IRB approval, if the his/her practicum may involve human subjects research.
              • 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

              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 guidelines for international travel on the Practicum Travel webpage.
              10. You must receive approval from the Office of International Affairs before beginning work on your practicum.