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. 

Click here for an overview of the practicum process.

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. Can you expect to finish your proposed project within a reasonable timeframe?
    • If your faculty advisor’s interests or 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.
    • Only UTHealth School of Public Health faculty may serve as faculty mentors for the practicum.
        • 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.  However, we strongly encourage students to complete their core courses prior to enrolling in the practicum.
        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.
        • 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).  
        • 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.
          • See also the section on human subjects research, if applicable to your project. Please be advised that Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals for any human subjects research at international sites can be extensive.
        • 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.
          • To help you prepare for this step, review the guidance on the International Students tab of this webpage.
        • Onboarding requirements
          • Please be aware that some organizations, especially medical facilities, require students working at their sites to complete onboarding.  
          • Onboarding may include providing proof of immunizations, completing a drug or health screening, performing a criminal background check, completing HIPPA training, or other requirements.
          • Meeting onboarding requirements could delay your practicum start date. Please keep this in mind when planning your practicum and remember to ask your preceptor about any potential onboarding.
        • Human Subjects Research
          • If your practicum involves human subjects research, you must receive Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval prior to beginning your practicum.
          • You must receive approval from UTHealth's Committee for Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) even if your preceptor or host organization already has an approved protocol for the study. In addition to receiving approval through UTHealth's CPHS, check with your preceptor about being added to your practicum site's protocol, if conducting your practicum outside of UTHealth.
          • To seek approval, submit an application through iRIS (Integrated Research Information Software). See the CPHS website to access iRIS instructions and to register for a 2.5 hour course in using this system.
          • If you will be working on a UTHealth protocol that already has been approved by UTHealth’s CPHS, ask the UTHealth Principal Investigator (PI) of the approved study to add you to their protocol. If your activities will fall outside the scope of the approved protocol, however, the UTHealth PI must amend their approved protocol or require you to submit your own, new protocol through iRIS.
          • If your practicum will involve human subjects research, discuss your activities with your faculty mentor.
          • If you are unsure whether the activities for your practicum involve human subjects research, please email a detailed description of your activities to CPHS at cphs@uth.tmc.edu. A staff person at CPHS can help you determine if the activities meet the definition of human subjects research.
          • Review the Research Compliance Guide on the School of Public Health's Student Research website.
          • See the CPHS website for additional information about IRB review policies.
        • HIPPA Training
          • If your practicum will involve working with protected health information (PHI), review the CITI module in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) training. 
          • For step-by-step instructions to access this training module, 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.
        • Working with Hazardous Materials
          • If you will be working with hazardous chemicals, radioactive materials, or infectious or biological agents at a UTHealth campus or facility, refer to the "Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management" section of the Research Compliance Guide on the School of Public Health's Student Research website.  For additional information, visit UTHealth's Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management's website.
          • If you will be working with hazardous chemicals, radioactive materials, or infectious or biological agents at site external to UTHealth, follow all safety regulations or training at your practicum host site.  If you feel you have not received adequate training or are concerned about your safety while working at your practicum site, do not proceed with your activities and contact the Office of Public Health Practice or your faculty mentor. 
        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.
          • Plan to write a cover and interview for the opportunity.
          • 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 and 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.
        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.
        • Click here for a list of submission deadlines for the upcoming semesters. Do not wait until the last few days of registration to start your learning contract. You may not receive approval in time to register.
        • 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. 
          • Time commitment:
            As an MPH student, you must earn at least three practicum credits before you graduate. Students 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 must complete at least one final product.
            • Students enrolling in practicum for the summer 2019 and later semesters must complete at least two final products. 
            • Your final product is a tangible artifact of your practicum, a culmination of your practicum activities.
            • Your final product should be of value to the host organization.
            • Your final product should reflect the high quality we expect from graduate students. 
        Step 6:

        Submit your learning contract.

        • After you have submitted your learning contract in the Practicum Management System, your faculty mentor and preceptor should receive an automatic e-mail prompting their review and approval of your learning contract.
          • 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 approval 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 document.
          • We cannot approve learning contracts that do not have your faculty mentor's approval.
          • 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.
        • 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:

        Receive your registration approval code and register.

        • After approving your learning contract, the Office of Public Health Practice will e-mail a registration code for practicum (course PH9997) to your UTHealth e-mail account. Please allow at least one full business day, after your learning contract is fully approved, to receive your registration code.
        • When registering, be sure to select the correct number of academic credits (one credit for every 60 hours of practicum).  MyUTH system defaults to only one credit.
        Step 8:

        Obtain additional approvals, onboarding, and training required for your practicum, as discussed under step 2 before beginning your project.

        Step 9:

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

        • 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 will be e-mailed to you at 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, 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.

        Click here for an overview of the practicum process.

        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?
          • If your faculty advisor’s interests or 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.
          • Only UTHealth School of Public Health faculty may serve as faculty mentors for the practicum.
              • 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. However, we strongly encourage students to complete their core courses before registering for the practicum.
              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.
              • 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).  
              • 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.
                • See also the section on human subjects research, if applicable to your project. Please be advised that Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals for any human subjects research at international sites can be extensive.
              • 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.
                • To help you prepare for this step, review the guidance on the International Students tab of this webpage.
              • Onboarding requirements
                • Please be aware that some organizations, especially medical facilities, require students working at their sites to complete onboarding.  
                • Onboarding may include providing proof of immunizations, completing a drug or health screening, performing a criminal background check, completing HIPPA training or other requirements.
                • Meeting onboarding requirements could delay your practicum start date.  Keep this in mind when planning your practicum and remember to ask your preceptor about any potential onboarding.
              • Human Subjects Research
                • If your practicum involves human subjects research, you must receive Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval prior to beginning your practicum.
                • You must receive approval from UTHealth's Committee for Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) even if your preceptor or host organization already has an approved protocol for the study. In addition to receiving approval through UTHealth's CPHS, check with your preceptor about being added to your practicum site's protocol, if conducting your practicum outside of UTHealth.
                • To seek approval, submit an application through iRIS (Integrated Research Information Software). See the CPHS website to access iRIS instructions and to register for a 2.5 hour course in using this system.
                • If you will be working on a UTHealth protocol that already has been approved by UTHealth’s CPHS, ask the UTHealth Principal Investigator (PI) of the approved study to add you to their protocol. If your activities will fall outside the scope of the approved protocol, however, the UTHealth PI must amend their approved protocol or require you to submit your own, new protocol through iRIS.
                • If your practicum will involve human subjects research, discuss your activities with your faculty mentor.
                • If you are unsure whether the activities for your practicum involve human subjects research, please email a detailed description of your activities to CPHS at cphs@uth.tmc.edu. A staff person at CPHS can help you determine if the activities meet the definition of human subjects research.
                • Review the Research Compliance Guide on the School of Public Health's Student Research website.
                • See the CPHS website for additional information about IRB review policies.
              •  HIPPA Training
                • If your practicum will involve working with protected health information (PHI), review the CITI module in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) training. 
                • For step-by-step instructions to access this training module, 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.
              • Working with Hazardous Materials
                • If you will be working with hazardous chemicals, radioactive materials, or infectious or biological agents at a UTHealth campus or facility, refer to the "Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management" section of the Research Compliance Guide on the School of Public Health's Student Research website.  For additional information, visit UTHealth's Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management's website.
                • If you will be working with hazardous chemicals, radioactive materials, or infectious or biological agents at site external to UTHealth, follow all safety regulations or training at your practicum host site.  If you feel you have not received adequate training or are concerned about your safety while working at your practicum site,do not proceed with your activities and contact the Office of Public Health Practice or your faculty mentor. 
              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 mentor 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.
                • 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 and 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
              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.
              • Click here for a list of submission deadlines for the upcoming semesters. Do not wait until the last few days of registration to start your learning contract. You may not receive approval in time to register.
              • 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. 
                • 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 must complete at least one final product.
                  • Students enrolling in practicum for the summer 2019 and later semesters must complete at least two final products. 
                  • Your final product is a tangible artifact of your practicum, a culmination of your practicum activities.
                  • Your final product should be of value to the host organization.
                  • Your final product should reflect the high quality we expect from doctoral-level students. 
              Step 6:

              Submit your learning contract.

              • After you have submitted your learning contract in the Practicum Management System, your faculty mentor and preceptor should receive an automatic e-mail prompting their review and approval of your learning contract.
                • 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 document.
                • We cannot approve learning contracts that do not have your faculty mentor's approval.
                • Please allow at least three business days for our review.
                • We will e-mail any required changes to you and copy your faculty mentor. 
              • 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:

              Receive your registration approval code and register.

              • After approving your learning contract, the Office of Public Health Practice will e-mail a registration code for practicum (course PH9997) to your UTHealth e-mail account. Please allow at least one full business day, after your learning contract is fully approved, to receive your registration code.
              • 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 8:

              Obtain additional approvals, onboarding, and training required for your practicum, as discussed under step 2before beginning your project.

              Step 9:

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

              • 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 or onboarding 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 have already a practicum opportunity in mind, please visit our Post a Practicum webpage for instructions to post the opportunity in the Handshake student job board.  
              • If you do not have a specific practicum opportunity, but wish to host a practicum student, please email us at practicum@uth.tmc.edu.  Please provide your organization's name and a contact person's name, email address, and phone number. We will post this information on our online job board (Handshake), which is accessible to all UTHealth School of Public Health students. Those students who are interested in conducting a practicum for your organization will contact you about developing a practicum project.
              • If a student has pitched a practicum opportunity to you and you’re interested in taking on the role of preceptor, please proceed to Step 2.   
              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 learning objectives and at least one final product for the practicum.
              • The learning contact also includes information about the practicum site, 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 a 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

              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. 

              To apply for CPT approval, please complete the steps below.

              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.