MPH students must demonstrate competency attainment through the Practicum in Public Health.
This required 200-hour practicum gives students the opportunity to practice and improve professional skills in a supervised setting.
The requirements to complete the practicum are in three courses over two semesters.
- GCH 780, Practicum Seminar (0 credits)
- GCH 790, Practicum in Public Health (3 credits)
- GCH 792, Integrative Learning Experience (0 credits)
GCH 780, Practicum Seminar, is a zero-credit, online course that helps students identify and arrange their practicum placements in a structured environment.
There are two parts to GCH 780.
- Career Readiness
- Searching for and Securing a Practicum Site
Students complete GCH 780 the semester before doing the practicum.
The Practicum Coordinator grades GCH 780 as satisfactory/non satisfactory (S/NS).
The required 200-hour practicum gives students the opportunity to practice and improve professional skills in a supervised setting. The practicum site should support the students’ career goals, to the extent possible, and the work a student completes during the practicum should be mutually beneficial to both the site and the student.
The Practicum Coordinator grades GCH 790 on the graduate A-F scale. The grade for GCH 790 is determined by submission of the time sheet, weekly journals, poster presentation, the practicum supervisor evaluation, and site visit.
The Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) serves a means for students to synthesize MPH competencies into a high-quality written document, referred to as a synthesis paper or “deliverable.”
Each student is assigned an Integrative Learning Experience Faculty Advisor (“ILE Faculty Advisor”) at the start of the practicum semester. The ILE Faculty Advisor is a member of the CHHS faculty with expertise in the student’s concentration.
The ILE Faculty Advisor grades GCH 792 as satisfactory/non satisfactory (S/NS). If the ILE Faculty Advisor does not think the quality of the final synthesis paper is passable, a second reviewer, also with expertise in the appropriate area, will review the work.
Students can complete their practicums in a variety of settings. Recent sites include:
- Association of Public Health Laboratories
- Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health
- Arlington Free Clinic
- Center for Health, Environment and Justice
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Fairfax County Health Department
- Food and Drug Administration
- Partnership for Food Safety Education
- Save the Children
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
While ultimately it is each student's responsiblity to find a suitable site, they are supported throughout the process during GCH 780, Practicum Seminar. Students have access to a practicum database, and are required to meet with the Practicum Coordinator to discuss their interests.
CEPH accreditation requires that all students achieve competency attainment through an "Applied Practice Experience," which we call the practicum. This is a 200-hour internship done in the final spring semster or summer term of a student's program. CEPH also requires all students to write a high-quality written document that shows evidence of competency synthesis and which is useful to external stakeholders. CEPH calls this the "Integrative Learning Experience," or ILE.
Since students are already addressing competencies in practicum, we have tied the ILE requirement to practicum. Therefore, the ILE requirement is done during a student's practicum, but is graded separately.
The Integrative Learning Experience Faculty Advisor is a member of the CHHS faculty with expertise in the student’s concentration who grades the synthesis paper for GCH 792. Each student is assigned an Integrative Learning Experience Faculty Advisor at the start of the practicum semester.
In contrast, the academic advisor to all MPH students is Kelly Beckwith. Ms. Beckwith does not grade any student work.
The Practicum Handbook lists all required information and is updated each year.