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Field Experience: School of Health Sciences: Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

About the Master of Public Health Program & Practicum

Walden’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program is designed to provide public health practitioners with the specialized skills and core competencies required to improve health and prevent disease among individuals, communities, and populations. Students gain a solid foundation in core public health disciplines, including biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, public health administration, and social and behavioral sciences. Students learn to plan, implement, and evaluate public health programs and initiatives with a special focus on reducing disparities in health and serving underserved populations or communities. Students also receive additional instruction in widely used analytical tools, explore current issues in public health financing, and hone their leadership and communication skills.

The Master of Public Health program includes a field practicum and written capstone. Students can design a practicum around the delivery of a public health program or as a researcher—assessing the need in a community or evaluating the effectiveness of a program. Students can carry out their practicum experiences at a city, county, state, or federal public health agency.

The practicum is designed to provide students who have finished their coursework with the opportunity to synthesize knowledge, to develop competence in professional practice in the foundation areas identified by CEPH, to apply knowledge to the solution of public health problems, and also to develop a respect for and commitment to continued professional knowledge. The field instruction experience that students receive through the practicum is a critical educational component of the M.P.H. program.

MPH Practicum FAQs

1. How long is my practicum?

Students enrolled in the MPH program must log a total of 200 hours. These hours are logged over the course of two terms (i.e., 22 weeks), while participating in PUBH 6638 and 6639.

2. Can I take the two practicum courses concurrently?

No. PUBH 6638 is a prerequisite for PUBH 6639. There are no exceptions to this requirement.

3. Can I finish all or most of my hours in PUBH 6638?

Yes. However, students are still required to be registered for and participate in PUBH 6639 the following quarter.

4. What if I do not complete all hours by the end of PUBH 6639?

Students usually do not have any problems accumulating their hours in the allotted time frame. If there is concern over this, they should contact their practicum faculty member and the field education coordinator immediately.

5. Do I need to log in to my online practicum courses?

Yes. Students must log in to PUBH 6638 and 6639 in the same manner as they have done in other courses. The format is similar to previous courses in the program. Students post discussions and submit assignments on a weekly basis.

6. When can I begin my practicum?

Students may be registered for the first practicum course once they have:

  • Successfully completed all numerically preceding MPH didactic courses, excluding PUBH 6245.
  • Submitted their practicum application documents.
  • Received notification of approval of their preceptor nominee and the complete application.

Students must be in good academic standing (GPA of 3.0 or higher) to begin the practicum experience. If students are unsure of their academic standing, they should contact their student success advisor. Students must begin logging hours within the first week of the practicum course. Students may start logging practicum hours on the first day of the course provided that they have received a practicum approval notice from the field education coordinator and their preceptor approves. 

7. Can I complete practicum hours between quarters?

No. Practicum hours must be completed while students are enrolled in the practicum courses, PUBH 6638 and 6639. Students cannot log hours during the break between 6638 and 6639.

8. My site wants me to begin practicum activities before I start the practicum course. Am I allowed to start early?

No. Students must wait until the first day of the practicum course to begin their practicum activities. Any hours accumulated prior to that date are not accepted.

9. What books do I need for the practicum courses?

Students do not receive any books for PUBH 6638 and 6639. They use materials acquired in previous courses.

10. When should I submit my practicum application?

It is highly recommended that students submit the practicum application two quarters in advance.  The practicum application is required to be submitted at least one quarter (11 weeks) prior to the desired practicum start. For example, if students wish to begin the practicum in the fall, their application must be submitted by the first day of the summer quarter. Late applications cannot be accepted. For an extension, special approval is needed by the field education coordinator and the practicum director. Late applications will result in the practicum being delayed to the following quarter.

11. What information and documents must be in my practicum application?

The Meditrek® system will prompt students to provide information such as their Walden student

ID number, Walden e-mail address, and contact information for the site administrator and preceptor. Students will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Student’s résumé.
  • Preceptor’s résumé. (If students have a co-preceptor, they will need to add the relevant information and documents to their existing application.)
  • Proof of student’s professional liability insurance showing coverage dates and coverage amounts (minimum $1 million per incident, $3 million aggregate). Students must submit a memorandum or certificate of insurance coverage (not the application) for the active policy.
  • The Preceptor Signature Form with a description of the student’s activities at the site and an electronic signature by the preceptor. This document is sent directly to the preceptor via e-mail when students submit the preceptor information section in Meditrek®. Students need to follow up with the preceptor to obtain the signed document and then upload it in Meditrek® to complete their application.

Students applying to do their practicum at their place of employment must also include:

  • The following information from the student’s current supervisor: the student’s current work location, the specific days and hours of the student’s current job, current job description with specific responsibilities and work assignments described in detail, dates of current employment, if the student will continue working at the present position while completing the practicum, and what arrangements will be made to cover the student’s current duties or what arrangements will be made to separate the time requirements of the student’s current job from the time requirements of the practicum.
  • The following information from the student’s proposed preceptor: a detailed description of the duties and responsibilities that would be performed by the student during the practicum; the location, including building and floor of the student’s desk/work area during the practicum; and a description of how clear boundaries will be assured between the student’s practicum experience and the student as an employee.

Note: Students are responsible for uploading all documents in Meditrek® to complete their application.

12. My site provides liability insurance coverage for me. Do I still need to have my own?

Yes. All Walden students beginning a practicum are required to purchase professional liability insurance, even if the field site provides coverage for them. For students completing the practicum at their workplace, because they are there as Walden students, not as employees, they are not covered as employees by the site while logging practicum hours.

13. How can I obtain professional liability insurance? 

Walden does not endorse a particular insurance provider. Students typically obtain professional liability insurance coverage through companies such as Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO), Marsh, MedPro, or CPH & Associates.

14. Who should sign my Field Site Affiliation Agreement?

The Field Site Affiliation Agreement must be signed by a field site administrator who has the authority to sign legal agreements. Large organizations might have an on-site legal department that reviews such agreements and have an attorney sign them. Note: The field education coordinator will assist in obtaining this document from the field site. Students need to enter the correct contact information into Meditrek® to prevent delays.

15. Will my preceptor be compensated? 

Although Walden University’s School of Health Sciences does not compensate preceptors financially for preceptorships, preceptors are provided with the following benefits:

  • Honorary Clinical Instructor status – This status can be claimed during the period of time preceptors are working with a Walden student and establishes the guidelines for instructors that are provided by the academic program of the student(s) preceptors are working with. This is an honorary status, which is given without payment, and does not make a preceptor an employee or agent of Walden or entitle a preceptor to receive employment benefits from Walden.
  • Access to Walden’s library – To gain access to the library, preceptors should send an
    e-mail to supervisorappreciation@mail.waldenu.edu.
  • No-cost continuing education opportunities – Preceptors will receive communication directly from the program’s field experience office as these opportunities are available.
  • Job and internship posting specifically for Walden students – Preceptors can find information about this at the Career Services Center.

16. What will happen after I submit my practicum application?

After students submit their application documents using Meditrek®, they can expect the following to occur:

  • Students will receive an e-mail confirming that the application was received.
  • The field education coordinator and the practicum director will review their respective parts of the practicum application.
  • The practicum director will approve the type of site, the credentials and experience of the preceptor, and the proposed tasks at the site.
  • The field education coordinator will assist with the field site and Affiliation Agreement coordination and will approve the degree audit and insurance document.
  • Students can continue to go into their Meditrek® application to check on the status of the application.
  • If the application is not approved, students will be informed via e-mail and asked to submit a new or revised application.
  • If the application is approved, the field education coordinator will notify students and preceptors by e-mail and will provide important information about practicum procedures and the required Learning Agreement.

17. Can I register myself for the practicum courses?

No. The field education coordinator registers students for the practicum course once all documents are on file and approved. Students are not automatically registered or able to register themselves. They also cannot be registered for their practicum by their student success advisor or enrollment advisor.

18. Can my practicum experience be virtual or done at someone’s home?

No. The practicum must be completed at a physical professional site. It cannot be virtual or home-based.

19. Does my practicum have to be completed in the country in which I reside?

No. Students may complete their practicum anywhere in the world, but they must still go through the formal application and approval process. For additional information regarding international placements, students should contact the field education coordinator.

20. What are some examples of projects that I can complete during my practicum?

  • Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems.
  • Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community.
  • Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues.
  • Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems.
  • Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
  • Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
  • Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of healthcare when otherwise unavailable.
  • Assure competent public and personal healthcare workforce.
  • Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services.
  • Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.

21. The Learning Agreement asks me to list products. What are products?

The products are anything students physically create during the practicum, such as a presentation, manual, or brochure. Only tangible items should be listed in this section. The products created are evaluated at the end of the practicum experience.

22. What are the final assignments I need to submit at the end of PUBH 6639?

The final project for the practicum is an electronic portfolio, including the following:

  • Timesheets.
  • Reflection papers.
  • Application assignments.
  • The Learning Agreement and Learning Agreement Addendum, if applicable.
  • Portfolio sign-off sheet.
  • Any products created as well as a description of those products.

This portfolio is due at the end of PUBH 6639. The other main assignment due at the end of the practicum is a final paper, including a literature review, a section on social change, and a reflection of experiences at the field site. There is no thesis requirement associated with the practicum.

Research Opportunities

Bulletin Board

 

Ready to view available research opportunities? Visit our Research &  Service Opportunities Homepage