A practicum is a unique learning opportunity that allows you to apply classroom learning in a community-based setting. A practicum is a required component of the MPH and DrPH degree programs.
A practicum is a planned, supervised and evaluated “real-world” experience that allows you to use the knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom. The practicum should address a need identified by your host organization. The practicum directly relates to your academic goals and professional interests. It is highly recommended that you complete the practicum in your field of study.
The practicum is an essential part of the curriculum and is a requirement set by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the accrediting body of U.S. Schools of Public Health. CEPH recommends that a student spend a minimum of 12 hours per week at the practicum site.
Primary supervision during the practicum is provided by the community preceptor. Your faculty sponsor is available as needed. A wide variety of public and private organizations are available for students. These sites can provide a valuable practice experience for students by:
- allowing the student to apply skills and knowledge learned in the classroom.
- introducing regular contact with public health practitioners.
- providing a community preceptor who is willing to be a mentor, provide guidance and support as needed.
A practicum requires that you:
- Complete an online orientation and quiz the semester before you start your practicum.
- Complete your online Learning Contract with input from your community preceptor and faculty sponsor.
- Provide copies by submitting the online Learning Contract to the community preceptor, faculty sponsor, Office of Public Health Practice. Verify receipt of your online Learning Contract with your community preceptor and faculty sponsor. Forward a copy to your Regional Coordinator and retain one copy for yourself.
- Office of Public Health Practice/Regional Coordinator must have a copy of the online Learning Contract before the practicum starts.
- Contact the Associate Dean in the Office of Public Health Practice (713-500-9163 or Linda.E.Lloyd@uth.tmc.edu) to get the approval code of your faculty sponsor to register.
- Register for one to nine hours – PH 9997. However, only 3 hours count for credit.
- For each credit you count, spend four hours per week at your placement for 15 weeks.
- Register during the first session (cannot register for the second session), if you are registering for the Summer semester.
- Participate in the online seminars that allow you an opportunity for reflective learning and sharing.
- Submit an abstract.
- Complete an evaluation.
A checklist is available to help you plan your experience.
You, your community preceptor and your faculty sponsor should discuss (use example learning contract) and finalize the practicum requirements. Complete the Learning Contract before you go on site. Use the Learning Contract to clearly define:
- learning objectives
- methods and timetable necessary to accomplish those objectives
- description of the final product
Well defined learning objectives are critical to the practicum. The learning objectives define what you would like to gain from the experience. You should identify these early so that you can begin to explore potential sites. There are two levels of learning objectives. General learning objectives should be developed within the context of your overall goals for your program. These should be developed in consultation with your advisory committee. Specific learning objectives are recorded on your Learning Contract and reflect the specific concepts or skills you would like to learn at your practicum site.
Evaluations are completed by students and community preceptors. The evaluation forms are emailed a few weeks before the end of the semester. Community preceptor evaluations are forwarded to your faculty sponsor. Aggregate results are shared with the division chairs, regional deans, and posted on this website under reports.
Pulling It Together
All practicum arrangements are the student’s responsibility. UTSPH faculty and staff from the Office of Public Health Practice can assist you in clarifying your goals and identifying potential sites. Your search for a practicum should begin no later than the beginning of the semester prior to the semester your practice experience starts. You must complete a practicum orientation session before you start the practicum. A checklist outlining the process for the practicum is available. If you are interested in using your practicum to fulfill the culminating experience requirement, you must follow the school-wide policies and guidelines as documented. The following guidelines should assist you in finding the right placement.
- Determine your academic goals and professional interest — what do you want from this experience?
- Develop a resume to emphasize your skills. Student Affairs has information to help you develop and personalize your resume.
- Identify possible sites — Talk with students, faculty, Office of Public Health Practice staff and check out the Finding a Practicum Section.
- Select potential sites based on your interests, learning objectives and career plans.
- Be prepared for interviews.
- Contact SPH faculty to discuss the pros and cons of the sites you are considering.
- Contact the sites and discuss the opportunity.
- Clarify the following:
- project goals
- methods and timelines
- community preceptor
- Select a faculty sponsor.
- Arrange a meeting with your community preceptor and faculty sponsor. At this time, the following items should be clarified:
- methods and timelines
- final product
- The Learning Contract should be completed and signed by the student, community preceptor and faculty sponsor and submitted to the Office of Public Health Practice/Regional Coordinator before starting the practicum.
- Register for PH9997. One of the requirements is participation in a bi-weekly seminar during the semester of your practicum. (Effective January 2007)
- Primary supervision during the practicum is provided by the community preceptor. Your faculty sponsor is available as needed.
The following material (Orientation and Essential Services of Public Health) must be reviewed and the quiz submitted before you register for PH9997. In the link below, there are two presentations to review. The first outlines the requirements for the practicum. The second is a CDC presentation that provides an orientation to the essential services of public health. At the end of the second presentation, there is a link to a quiz that covers both presentations. This short quiz must be submitted once before you register for the practicum (PH9997). If you have taken the quiz, do not take the quiz again.
- Essential Services of Public Health
A practicum is a real-world internship experience, providing students an opportunity to apply academic knowledge in a practice setting. It is an academic requirement for the DrPH degree program. The practicum should address both a need identified by a host organization selected by the student and directly relate to the student’s academic goals and professional interests. The emphases of the DrPH practicum, however, are leadership development and professional development. Students may work in a variety of public health settings during their practicum, based on their course of study and career interests.
The practicum is an essential part of the curriculum and is a requirement set by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the accrediting body of U.S. Schools of Public Health. This practice experience provides an opportunity for students to work toward the DrPH competencies determined by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH):
- Community/Cultural Orientation
- Critical Analysis
- Professionalism & Ethics
DrPH Practicum Learning Objectives & Corresponding ASPH DrPH Competencies
After completing the practicum, the student will be able to:
Apply concepts from academia to public health practice. This may be accomplished through active participation and contribution through team activities with the host organization, which may include attending conferences and grand rounds, drafting white papers or policy briefs, informing the design of health promotion programs, among other activities.
[Communication, Leadership, Management, Professionalism & Ethics]
Additionally, the student will select at least TWO learning objectives from the list below:
- Prepare and effectively deliver written and oral materials for a variety of audiences, including public health professionals, the public and/or policy-makers.
- Identify and follow a policy, program or action recently implemented by or through a public health organization. In achieving this objective, students are encouraged to examine the progress of a policy, program or action throughout the practicum experience and outline recommended next steps based on an analysis of the selected process [Advocacy, Community/Cultural Orientation, Critical Analysis]
- Apply research tools to public health practice (e.g., survey design and completion, evaluation, data analysis, policy analysis). In achieving this objective, students are encouraged to apply research tools to a project identified by the host organization
[Community/Cultural Orientation, Critical Analysis]
- Communicate public health information by conducting at least one skill-building workshop for one unit of a community organization, OR teach a course or workshop for undergraduate or graduate students
Who is involved in the DrPH practicum?
DrPH Student: Identifies practicum site, community preceptor, faculty sponsor, and ensures that all arrangements – including learning contract completion and electronic signatures – have been completed before registration. Student then completes the practicum as outlined in the learning contract and participates in the practicum seminar throughout the semester.
Community Preceptor: Works for the organization where the student will complete the practicum. They will mentor the student throughout the practicum experience. The community preceptor should be experienced in public health and be able to provide an experience that will allow the student to develop as a leader in public health. The community preceptor will provide the day-to-day supervision throughout your practicum and complete an evaluation of your performance at the end of the semester.
Faculty Sponsor: This is a faculty member at UTSPH. Often, students choose their academic advisor, but this is not a requirement. The faculty sponsor provides guidance for the student as they develop their learning contract and throughout the practicum experience, and communicates with the community preceptor as needed. The faculty sponsor assigns the student’s grade (P/F) based on the community preceptor’s evaluation of the student’s performance and completion of the practicum seminar.
Steps for Enrollment & Requirements for Completion of Practicum
- Complete online orientation and online quiz
- Identify practicum site
- Identify community preceptor
- Meet community preceptor in person, if possible
- Develop learning contract (LC) (see below for details)
- Submit LC online
- Follow-up with faculty sponsor and community preceptor as needed – both will approve the LC electronically, but may request revisions before doing so
- Receive approval code to register upon administrative approval of LC
- Register for one to nine hours – PH9997— however, only 3 hours count for credit toward the DrPH degree
- 1 credit hour = 60 hours in the field
- 180 hours may be worked in any manner acceptable to community preceptor and student, i.e. 12 hours/week for 15 weeks, 40 hours/week for 4.5 weeks, etc.
- If summer semester, must register for first session (12 week), regardless of actual start date
- Complete Practicum Seminar (not a separate registration) – see syllabus for details
- Complete online evaluations of practicum and seminar
Learning Contract: The student, community preceptor and faculty sponsor should discuss and finalize the practicum requirements. The Learning Contract must be completed before the student starts the practicum. Use the Learning Contract to clearly define:
- Learning objectives (from the list above: #1 plus 2 other learning objectives that best fit the practicum for the student)
- Methods by which you will accomplish each of the 3 learning objectives
- Description of the final product and how the host organization will use it
Evaluations: Evaluations are completed by students and community preceptors. The evaluation forms are emailed a few weeks before the end of the semester. Community preceptor evaluations are forwarded to the faculty sponsor. Aggregate results are shared with the division chairs, regional deans, the Practice Council and posted on this website under reports.
Online Seminar Description & Schedule
Course Facilitator Linda Lloyd, PhD, MBA, MSW Linda.E.Lloyd@uth.tmc.edu
Purpose This online seminar is completed by students during their practicum. Once you register for the practicum, you are automatically registered for the online seminar. All material is available through Blackboard (http://blackboard.uth.tmc.edu) The primary purpose is to examine issues/concepts that are relevant to public health practice. Through readings, PowerPoint presentations and reflection exercises you will have a chance to share your experiences with your classmates.
Competencies This seminar contributes to the following cross-cutting MPH competencies. Discuss how ethical principles and practices are applied in a variety of public health settings. Discuss the importance and characteristics of a sustainable diverse public health workforce. Discuss how public health programs and strategies should be responsive to the diverse cultural values and traditions of the communities being served. Describe the attributes of leadership in public health. Engage in dialogue and learning from others to advance public health goals. Describe the use of collaborative methods in achieving organizational and community health goals. Apply social justice and human rights principles when addressing community needs. Apply basic principles of ethical analysis (e.g., the Public Health Code of Ethics and human rights framework) to issue of public health practice and policy. Apply the core functions of assessment, policy development, and assurance in the analysis of public health problems and their solutions. Distinguish between population and individual ethical considerations in relation to the benefits, costs, and burdens of public health programs. Describe the unique characteristics of public health that captures the distinctive nature of the field (e.g., population-focused, community-oriented, prevention-motivated and rooted in social justice). Discuss sentinel events in the history and development of the public health profession and their relevance for practice in the field.
Course Materials and Organization We will use a variety of methods including PowerPoint presentations and readings to achieve the course competencies. Every second week there is material to review and a question/exercise to post to the discussion board on Blackboard. There is no text-book however you will be expected to read articles from current literature. The message boards and e-mail will be checked several times a week. The schedule (example) outlines the weekly topics and assignments.
Class Assignments About every second week, there is a different public health practice topic. During this time, the instructor poses a question for the discussion board and you are expected to respond. Your final abstract assignment (described on Blackboard) should be electronically posted to Blackboard). Please title the assignment accordingly.
Expectations and Requirements If there is a compelling reason why you are not able to participate, send me an email to let me know that you won’t be available for a while.
Privacy and Confidentiality Our communication is for this class only. Whatever we say to each other stays within the group.
Academic Honesty Submitted work must always represent your original words or ideas. You must cite all relevant sources.
Approved by: Practice Council, March 16, 2006
Approved by: Academic Council, March 22, 2006
- Reviews the online orientation presentation
- Assists the student in development of a practicum
- Assists the student in completing the Learning Contract
- Provides an orientation to the organization
- Provides an appropriate workspace
- Directs on-site activities
- Participates in meetings as requested
- Maintain contact with student and faculty sponsor. Contact information is on the copy of the learning contract. You will receive a copy of the learning contract in the email to you to approve the learning contract.
- Completes an evaluation (link to example only, evaluation sent to you via email) of the student and their experience.
- Reviews the online orientation presentation
- Assists the student in identifying and selecting a practicum site
- Assists the student in completing the Learning Contract
- Participates in meetings as requested
- Monitors progress of the practicum
- Maintains contact with student and community preceptor. Contact information is on the copy of the learning contract. You will receive a copy of the learning contract in the email to you to approve the learning contract.
- Assesses completeness of the final product and acknowledges completion with a grade/comment
- Completes the online orientation and quiz
- In consultation with advisor selects a site and project
- Completes and submits an online Learning Contract. Upon submission of your online learning contract, an email will automatically be sent to your faculty sponsor, community preceptor and administration for approval of your learning contract electronically. If you are at a regional campus, forward a copy of the learning contract to the Regional Campus Coordinator. The Regional Campus Coordinator must have an approved copy before the practicum starts. After approvals, request an approval code from the Office of Public Health Practice (practicum office).
- Registers for PH9997
- Functions professionally at the site
- Complies with policies and procedures of the organization
- Completes assignments related to the practicum
- Maintains communication with faculty sponsor as needed
- Participates in online seminar
- Posts abstract on Blackboard
- Completes an evaluation of the practicum sent to you via email
- Sends e-Magazine page to community preceptor and faculty sponsor