Guidelines for PUBHLTH 698W Practicum for Worcester MPH students

All M.P.H students who matriculated in the fall semester 2007 and thereafter are required to complete a practicum as part of their degree requirement, and will receive three credits for the practicum. Worcester students must complete all 5 core course before signing up for a practicum. The minimum time for a practice experience is 200 hours. However, individuals with evidence of 3 years of experience and currently employed fulltime in a public health or health care setting practice would be given 80 hours credit toward the practicum. This credit would reduce the minimum practice requirement to 120 hours. Practice experiences may be paid or unpaid. Placements are found by the student and approved by the Practicum instructor. You need to sign up for PUBHLTH 698W Worcester Practicum for 3 credits. Please note that the practicum will be graded as pass/fail. The following guidelines will provide you with more information regarding your practicum.

Site Selection and Site Supervisor:

For your practicum, you need to identify a site and a site supervisor. As Worcester MPH students you have the options of implementing your Practicum at the organization you work for as long as the following guidelines are followed:

· A practicum at an organization where you are already employed usually means you will implement a public health project within this organization. You can do this by working on a public health project that already exists or design your own small project and implement it. The major learning theme for the practicum is to receive practical work experience in public health and utilize your classroom knowledge. 

· The practicum cannot be part of your job description at present. It has to be something new that will help you achieve the goals you identified.

 · It can be accomplished during your normal working hours but again it has to be something new.

 · You will need to find someone in the organization to supervise (or more likely) advise you.

For those of you planning to conduct a practicum outside your place of work, the following practicum site criteria should be met.

· The Practicum site is an organization, agency, or community that provides planning or services relevant to public health.

· The Practicum site enables you to further develop and apply specific skills or competencies learned in your Worcester MPH program.

  • The Practicum site provides a Practicum Site Supervisor as described above.
  • The Practicum site exhibits a willingness to provide support, including a workspace, if appropriate for your practicum needs.
  • The Practicum site is a good match with your needs and interests.

Please be advised that some organizations will require a contract between the specified organization and our department and/or the University of Massachusetts. As of this time, our department does not have any protocol in place to accommodate such contracts. Thus, you are encouraged to find organizations which do not require such formal agreements or negotiate with the organization to volunteer without a contract. Some students have been successful with this approach by making a statement such as “Are you willing to let me volunteer/work without the contract? Are there other options we could consider?”

The Site Supervisor you select should have substantial experience with your organization, a working knowledge and practical experience in the project areas assigned to you, and an interest in and commitment to helping you. Additionally, the site supervisor assists you in establishing and achieving the goals set forth for the practicum, provides regular feedback and completes the Site Supervisor Evaluation for Worcester MPH form at the conclusion of the practicum.

Practicum Topics:

Once you have identified your site and your site supervisor, you need to choose a topic for your practicum. It's important to choose one that is of interest to you and will be valuable to your organization. Some examples of previous practicum topics include: developing a smoking cessation program and/or wellness program at the place of work, designing a comic book to inform children about the hazards of handling bats or the swine flu, implementing an emergency preparedness plan, assessing interventions in pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD patients, etc. As you can see, it's a diverse and interesting list and virtually limitless in what can be achieved.

Word of Caution:

For those of you choosing practicums which may involve surveying and/or interviewing people, analyzing data or possibly, publishing and presenting the results, you may need to obtain Human Subjects approval from your organization as well as from UMass. Contact your organization directly regarding its human subjects procedures. For more information regarding the IRB (Internal Review Board) procedures through the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass, review the link below:

Next Steps:

As you know, this course is graded as pass/fail (SAT/UNSAT). In order to receive a passing grade, you need to:

· Complete all forms which include the Scope of Work form, the Student Evaluation of the Practicum, and the Site Supervisor Evaluation for Worcester MPH form to be completed by your supervisor. These forms are attached.

· Once your Scope of Work Form has been received and approved by the instructor, identify an on-site supervisor who will oversee your practicum; submit the name of your supervisor and his/her title and email address to the instructor who will then contact your supervisor regarding his/her role and expectations.

· Provide progress reports (about 2-3 paragraphs) as to the status and progress of your practicum on the due dates specified by the instructor.

· Submit a well written, 10-page paper summarizing your practicum experience following Standard English guidelines, using numbered pages and including a reference list that follows either APA or AMA formats and 15 power point slides further describing your practicum.

· All forms, papers and the power point are submitted to Dr. Coghlin-Strom on the due dates identified at the beginning of each semester.

All submitted work must adhere to the University's Policy on Academic Honesty which is as follows:

“Since the integrity of the academic enterprise of any institution of higher education requires honesty in scholarship and research, academic honesty is required of all students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Academic dishonesty is prohibited in all programs of the University. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and facilitating dishonesty. [Examples of behavior that constitutes academic dishonesty can be found at:] Appropriate sanctions may be imposed on any student who has committed an act of academic dishonesty. Any person who has reason to believe that a student has committed academic dishonesty should bring such information to the attention of the appropriate course instructor as soon as possible. Instances of academic dishonesty not related to a specific course should be brought to the attention of the appropriate department Head or Chair. The procedures that are intended to provide an efficient and orderly process by which action may be taken if it appears that academic dishonesty has occurred and by which students may appeal such actions are described in the Dean of Students Code of Student Conduct, available at:

Since students are expected to be familiar with this policy and the commonly accepted standards of academic integrity, ignorance of such standards is not normally sufficient evidence of lack of intent. “

Combining PUBHLTH 698W Worcester Practicum and PUBHLTH 696D Culminating Project:

Normally students will take the PUBHLTH 698W Worcester Practicum before they do their PUBHLTH 696D Culminating Project. Many times students find their idea for their project from their practicum. Occasionally, with special permission from Dr. Coghin-Strom, a student will be allowed to take both courses together (PUBHLTH 698W Worcester Practicum and PUBHLTH 696D Culminating project), designing and/or implementing the project within the practicum organization. To do so, you must have completed the pre-requisites for both courses, including the 120 hours required for the practicum, and must significantly expand upon the research and report you did for the practicum in order to use the same topic for the project (i.e., you have to take what you did for the practicum further in order to use it for the project )

If you have any questions or comments regarding the practicum and its guidelines, please direct them to: Dr. Coghlin-Strom at

Thank you,

Jackie Coghlin-Strom, MD, MPH
Faculty Director, Satellite MPH Program in Worcester

Updated: 01/22/13