A PUB-680: Public Health Practicum practicum course is designed to provide students an opportunity to transition from theory to practice in public health. The student reinforces, integrates, and applies concepts, principles, and skills gained during coursework that are essential to professional competency. Most importantly, during a PUB-680: Public Health Practicum course, students are required to complete a minimum of 150 hours of field experience. This should be in an approved public health setting under close supervision of a qualified preceptor approved by the college. Moreover, students also reflect on their practicum experience, discuss the application of theory and concepts in practice, identify personal strengths, describe professional development opportunities, and develop a professional portfolio.
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What is a public health practicum?
The public health practicum is a supervised practical field experience that is designed to provide students the opportunity to develop and apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the academic program in a public health agency or another environment in which a public health function is performed. Additionally, a public health practicum also allows students to gain practical experience working on a project related to their area of interest and/or career goals in public health.
During the course of study, all students should complete the practicum. The practicum involves working with an agency/organization on an approved project, writing a final report and making an oral presentation. These projects may include:
- Program evaluations,
- Case studies,
- Policy analyses or
- Descriptive studies.
The program’s location is often near the state capital, that is, the center of a populous region with varied needs in public health. Thus, it allows for numerous practicum sites. Additionally, these regions also provide internship opportunities in areas such as chronic disease and injury control, maternal and child health. Moreover, opportunities are also available through county public health offices. Thus, students may also often seek out practicum sites of their own choosing.
Tips for having a successful public health internship.
1. Be transparent about what you want.
In case you need any help, you should ask if what you want is possible. Sometimes learners are hesitant to ask for specific things they want during an interview with a supervisor. Then both the students and practicum supervisors walk away from the interview with different impressions about what the practicum should entail.
Therefore, if you know you have particular interests or needs for your practicum, be sure to ask about them during the interview or initial meeting.
2. Don’t worry about “bugging” your supervisor.
Once you have landed the perfect practicum and started working in an office, you now have a lot of questions. Your supervisor may seem like she is always busy.
Since the supervisor seems like she is always busy, the learners may hesitate to walk into a supervisor’s office or call a supervisor on the phone to try to get their questions answered. They may think that they are disturbing or “bugging” the supervisor. In addition, they may also fail to meet their deadlines or the project ends up not being what the supervisor wanted. This will eventually lead to troubles with the supervisor or even terminate your practicum. Thus, it is important to walk into a supervisor’s office or to try to get them on the phone to get your questions answered. If you have any questions, you may always ask if it is a good time. You can also schedule a time to talk with the supervisor.
3. Stand by the watercooler.
Practicums are a good place to apply what you learned in the classroom. In addition, it is also a good place where you can network and get to know other people in your field. This may lead to future job offers, collaborating on a project, or even job referral.
Therefore, it is important for a student to find someplace where employees congregate and introduce themselves. You may ask your, supervisor if there are any opportunities to meet with other employees or collaborators.