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The MPH Practicum

MPH Practicum FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Are MPH practicum experiences through the School available to non-Bloomberg School students?

No, practicum experiences through the Bloomberg School of Public Health are only available to currently enrolled, degree-seeking students.

Can a student develop their own customized practicum?

Yes, as long as the project meets practicum criteria and receives approval. Students can identify their own practicum experience through their own connections, networks, prior work experience, etc. The School also has an online database where students can review and apply to practicum opportunities submitted by various organizations and agencies. Of note: work completed before beginning the MPH program cannot count toward the practicum requirement. However, future work can count towards if certain criteria are met.

Can research or lab activity fulfill a practicum requirement?

Yes, as long as the student is working at an organization or agency engaged in public health work. In a research or lab-orientated practicum, the student will need to have some involvement in the interpretation of results and/or the larger public health implications of the work. A literature review or data analysis project alone will not meet the practicum requirement.

Can a practicum be done at a student’s former or current place of employment?

Yes. A practicum can be completed at a current or former place of employment, as long as the practicum is distinct from any ongoing work for which the student is being paid and is determined to meet the required criteria.

Can the practicum be a paid experience?

Yes, but payment is not required. If there is payment involved, the preceptor and student must negotiate the terms; the School is not involved in arranging any form of payment.

Can the practicum be a service project?

Yes, but the primary focus needs to fulfill a need that is not solely “direct service.” Students may be involved in “direct service”, but these activities cannot comprise the majority of the practicum experience. Examples of “direct service” include filing, serving food, and data entry. The work should add something to the organization’s knowledge, process, etc. In a service-oriented context, students should have some involvement at the program or policy level (program design, evaluation, etc.).

Does the preceptor-student relationship need to be one-on-one?

The practicum can be team-based if the project meets the practicum criteria for each student. If multiple students are working on the same project, each must have distinct contributions and responsibilities. 

Does the preceptor-student interaction need to be in-person?

While in-person interaction is preferred, it is not always possible. As long as the preceptor is providing directions, feedback, and guidance throughout the practicum experience, preceptor-student interaction can be conducted remotely.

Are deliverables required for the practicum?

Yes. Students are required to provide deliverables that are mutually agreed upon by the student and the preceptor when planning out a project. The format and content of the deliverables should be products that the precepting organization will be able to use, must be aligned with the defined learning objectives, and must contribute to the student’s career growth and development.

Can a student be the supervisor or principal investigator for the practicum project?

No.

Can the practicum also fulfill the Capstone requirement?

A student may build on their practicum experience to complete their capstone as long as the capstone and practicum projects are distinct and both meet the required criteria. The practicum experience may include group projects while the capstone must be an individual effort.

The practicum can be either practice-based or research-based experiences that may be linked to a capstone project. For example:

  • For a practice-based practicum experience, the result may be a deliverable appropriate to an outside organization; the student could then expand upon this experience for their capstone project. 
  • For a research-based practicum experience, the student could extend the analyses into a more detailed research report for their capstone project.

If a student decides to link the two requirements, the student should have discussions early on in the planning process with their Faculty Advisor, Capstone Advisor, and either the MPH Academic Administrator or Practicum Coordinator to ensure that the two requirements are distinct.

Below is an example of a practicum that was extended into a capstone project.

Assessment of Sexual Healthcare in Safety Net Providers Sites

Practicum: The student worked with a state department of health population health improvement office to assist in the development of a more holistic approach to HIV and STIs treatment. The student conducted background research on sexual health standard protocols and best practices from other states, as well as identified stakeholders from around the state. Additionally, the student created an asset-mapping tool for providers to identify the current screening and treatment procedures for STIs and HIV, including social services offered.

Capstone paper: The student expanded on their practicum work to document the development and evaluation of the asset-mapping tool. The capstone report included a summary of how the assessment tool was developed as well as preliminary results that will inform the development of standard protocols for HIV and STIs treatment.