Practicum Guide

The Council on education for Public Health (CePH) requires that all students engage in a culminating experience that combines public health knowledge and skills. This experience allows direct application of course content in an applied setting under guidance and supervision from faculty and community supervisors. The goal of this experience is to enrich classroom activity with practical understanding. Placement sites require prior approval from a committee comprised of two core and one affiliate public health faculty. Placement sites may include governmental or non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, applied public health field research, health service settings (including those in universities and schools), or worksite wellness programs. The practicum must occur in the last semester of the MPH program.

Placement Site
Students are responsible for establishing and identifying a field placement site prior to enrollment in the MPH Practicum with approval from his/her committee. It is recommended students solicit organizations specific to individual areas of interest. Organizations such as the Oklahoma Department of Health, the United Way, and Our Daily Bread have accepted OSU students in the past however there is no limit to the realm of possibilities, including international prospects if the student so chooses. Upon completion of the practicum many students secure employment through opportunities at the placement site.

Preceptor

Students must establish a preceptor at their placement site. It is the responsibility of the preceptor to facilitate an environment for which it will be possible for the student to fulfill learning objectives and demonstrate program core competences. Learning objectives are established by the student in coordination with the preceptor and approved by his/her faculty advisor in the Field Practicum Learning Agreement. Preceptors must meet one of the following minimum credential and experience criteria:

  • Bachelor’s with minimum seven years experience
  • Master’s with minimum five years experience
  • PhD with minimum two years experience

Learning Objectives

Students are responsible for the creation of four specific Learning Objectives that outline goals that they would like to work toward during their practicum experience.  These are specific goals that both support and reinforce skills acquired through the MPH Curriculum.  Learning objectives should be agreed upon between the student and the preceptor and allow the faculty advisor, as well as the practicum preceptor a clear set of guidelines to support the student in his/her practicum experience. 

Approval

Students are required to gain approval of their respective committees BEFORE they are able to start logging hours at their practicum site.  Students will need to set up a meeting in which to introduce their site, preceptor and outline their learning goals to the committee.  The Committee will then provide the student with feedback and possible approval.  Failure to gain approval means that the student will need to present to their committee again.  

The following items must be included in the introduction presentation:

  • Background information on site
  • Preceptor Resume/CV
  • Learning Objectives/Goals

Required hours or weekly schedule
The hours and days worked will be negotiated with the placement site; 200 total hours must be accrued onsite. Practicum hours may be paid or unpaid dependent upon the placement site. If the practicum is completed in the summer (12 weeks) or during a short-term (8 weeks), the expected hours per week will be higher than during a traditional term.

Students should make themselves available to meet with the faculty advisor mid-way through the semester to assess progress. The faculty advisor will also be available to meet as needed.

Practicum Expectations
Students are expected to complete a reflective journal after every 50 hours worked: 4 total reflective journals are expected. Journals should include specific activities conducted as part of the field training experience. Each journal is expected to be at least 3 double spaced pages and should include discussion of obstacles encountered and successes. Reflections should emphasize at least three of the following topics:

  1. Challenging knowledge or previously held beliefs
  2. Evidence of skill development or learning. What are you learning in this field placement?
  3. Theory versus practice. What experiences have you had that conflict or align with classroom learning?
  4. Professional development. What opportunities does this site offer for professional development? Have you engaged in any training activities?
  5. Relationship with preceptor/other staff. Describe your site supervisor’s role and interactions with you at your site. What management/leadership styles are exemplified in your field site?
  6. Insight into how the organization views the practicum.

The student will also be expected to develop an electronic portfolio. This portfolio is a collection of materials developed by the student throughout the practicum experience; materials from throughout the MPH coursework can also be included. Students are expected to create a practicum portfolio using Visual CV – which costs approximately $6 a month or $36 for a year. Visual CV will guide students through completion of an online curriculum vita with active links to work that exemplifies core competencies. The online CV and Portfolio should include:

  1. Practicum Report to include a reflective paper that describes the field training experience OR an empirical research manuscript of activities completed as part of the practicum assignment.
  2. Learning contract including scope of work
  3. Deliverables described in the scope of work, attaching documents created as part of the practicum

Written Assignment

The final written report is an integral part of the Practicum Experience.  It is designed to demonstrate the student's skillset and includes a list of competencies the student completed during their practicum.  As a result, feedback is required by the student's practicum committee before they can proceed with their final presentation.  This will include any changes to be made, etc. In order to provide adequate feedback to the student, the written paper MUST be submitted no more than 1-2 weeks before your final presentation.  

Evaluation
Final course grade will be calculated according to the following criteria at the end of the semester:

10% - Effort, attitude, and time invested (e.g. providing progress reports, etc.)
50% - Practicum Portfolio (Final Paper, Presentation, CV, Signed Documents)
40% - Reflections

Grading Procedure

A:           90 – 100%

B:           80 – 89%

C:           70 - 79%

D:           60 – 69%

F:            00 – 59%

Practicum Forms

Practicum Example

See our Steps to Success for an idea on the flow of events during your practicum experience.

Academic Dishonesty or Misconduct
The following are some examples of Academic Misconduct and Dishonesty:

  • Copying any information from another source without citation whether from the internet, a book, a journal article, or another student (with or without his/her knowledge)
  • Copying from another student during an exam with OR without his/her knowledge
  • Getting questions and/or answers from someone who previously took the exam
  • Sharing work on an online assignment or exam
  • Using technology (cell phone, laptop, etc.) or notes during an exam
  • Turning in a paper copied from another student, obtained from a website, or done by someone else
  • Working on an assignment with others when instructed to complete individually

The possible penalties for cheating at OSU:

  • Completing a substitute assignment, exam, paper or project
  • Receiving a reduced grade for the assignment, exam, paper or project
  • Receiving no credit for the assignment, examination, paper, or project
  • Failing the course

Students caught cheating will be referred to the Office of Academic Affairs.

For more information, see the OSU Academic Integrity website.

*Adapted from the OSU School of Applied Health and Educational Psychology MPH 5030: Master of Public Health Practicum Syllabus