Practicum FAQ's for Prospective Practica Sites

What is the practicum?

The practicum is a mandatory 12-week experiential component (minimum of 350 contact hours) of the MPH degree program and is initiated after students have completed all five core program courses. This supervised component is intended to provide students with an opportunity to apply course learning in a public health setting. The placement may involve any of the activities or functions of public health: surveillance, policy development, program evaluation, communications, etc. The student contributes to a community's resources and to addressing a public health related problem while developing personal confidence and skills as a public health professional.

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Who is involved in the practicum?

Success of a practicum placement will depend on the selection of quality practice locations with experienced and motivated trainers both in the field and the university. Students work closely with their academic advisor from the program and a field supervisor from the practicum site to set up specific arrangements. A learning contract will be agreed at the beginning of the practicum, and this will guide the learning activities the student becomes involved in and provide a framework for student evaluation.

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What makes a good practicum project?

We are looking to place students in situations that:

  • Require the student to apply graduate level competencies acquired in the MPH program to-date
  • Address a practical public health problem/issue
  • Advance the student's knowledge and skills
  • Have a field-based practicum supervisor with the appropriate interest, education and  experience to supervise, support and mentor the student in a public health setting
  • Provide the necessary organizational environment and supports

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How do you register your practica?

The School of Public Health relies on and appreciates the cooperation and support of organizations across Canada, to create these opportunities for its students. If your organization is interested in hosting an MPH student, then please contact us to request a proposal template.  Information requested will include the following:

  • Name, qualifications, and contact information for the field supervisor
  • Name of the agency
  • Ideal dates for commencing and ending the practicum (Spring-Summer term is mid-May to mid-August)
  • Physical location of the practicum
  • Availability of stipend
  • A brief description of the proposed project

All proposals will be assembled into a catalogue and made available to all MPH students. Students will contact you to apply for the practicum.

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Is there a financial obligation?  

The arrangement for a stipend (honoraria or salaries) for students is at the discretion of the agency offering the practicum.

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What skills will the students have when starting their practica?

Students generally will have completed course work in: biostatistics, epidemiology, health promotion, health policy, and environmental and occupational health.

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When do the practica take place?

Students normally register in the practicum in the summer of the first year of the MPH program, but may complete it at other times dependent on site availability.

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What are the goals for the student?

  • Integrate, synthesize and apply public health competencies acquired in preliminary MPH courses to a real-world public health situation.
  • Work on a substantive public health problem or issue relevant to the sponsoring organization
  • Engage in professional self-assessment and critical reflection
  • Explore areas of concentration that students are interested in
  • Enhance and develop skills needed to function in a professional public health setting including:
    • Problem identification, analysis and solving
    • Interpersonal skills including working as part of an interdisciplinary public health team
    • Oral and written communication
    • Understanding the mission, structure and functioning of the public health organization.

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