Practicum FAQ's for Students

What is the practicum? 

The practicum is a 12 week experiential component of the MPH curriculum that allows students to integrate theory of the classroom into practice in a public health work environment. The student contributes to a community's resources and address a public health issue while developing personal confidence and skills as a public health professional.

<Back to Top>

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 (field supervisor) and the university (academic supervisor). A learning contract will be established at the beginning of the practicum, and this will guide the learning activities of the student and provide a framework for student evaluation.

<Back to Top>

Can I do a practicum on a part time basis?

The length of the required practicum is usually a minimum of 3 months, and unless special arrangements are made, it is assumed that all MPH students will abide by this requirement. As a rule, the practicum is designed as a full-time experience. Any change in the one-term length of the practicum or modification in the way it is scheduled is the exception rather than the rule. The primary justification for altering the duration of the practicum is educational. In making a decision, account must be taken of the relationship of the student's past education and experience, present level of expertise, and future educational and career goals. Any request for substantial alteration in the practicum duration or any significant modification in scheduling the one-term practicum must be put in writing by the student and be received prior to written approval from the academic advisor and the MPH executive committee.

<Back to Top>

How do I apply for a specific practicum?

A catalogue of practicum placements will be posted to the MPH Students Groups page in PAWS. Students are encouraged to review these opportunities and contact the sites for further clarification. The Practicum Coordinator will act as a liaison between the students and the sites. Students will prepare and submit to the Practicum Coordinator and application for the one or two practicum of their choice, indicating preference, and include: a short resume including previous experience and course within the MPH that will be completed before the practicum; and a letter explaining why you are interested in the particular placement. The Practicum Coordinator will submit applications to individual sites for them to select their preferred candidate. They will have their own processes for doing this which will be made explicit before the application deadline date (15 February of the academic year). The selection process will be completed and students notified by February 26 of the academic year . On receipt of offer, student will commit to the site of their choice and sign up with them. Changes will not be accepted after this time other than for exceptional circumstances understood and agreed by all parties.

<Back to Top>

Can I find my own practicum site and field supervisor?

Students are encouraged to seek alternative practicum sites, either through the Public Health Agency of Canada, or through their own resources. All sites must meet the standards and be approved by the Practicum Coordinator, and students who apply directly to other sites will make their own arrangements but need to be aware of the deadlines for finalizing a placement.

<Back to Top>

Is the practicum project the only thing I do while on my practicum?

No! It is very important that you take this opportunity to learn all you can about the public health sector in which you are working. You are strongly encouraged to participate in agency meetings, other projects, and to be fully immersed in the public health activities of that agency. The field supervisor will be encouraged to interact with you as much as possible throughout your practicum.

<Back to Top>

I would like to do an MPH practicum at my place of employment. Is this possible?

Students may, with approval from their academic advisor, conduct their practicum where they work, but they may not do a practicum project that is part of their usual job within their specific work setting or under the direction of their current supervisor. Students are strongly encouraged to find a practicum placement outside of their place of employment in order to be exposed to new experiences and opportunities for growth. In addition, students may find it difficult to separate their student role from their work role when the practicum takes place within the student's work setting.

<Back to Top>

Who should be my field supervisor?

The field supervisor should be someone who has significant broad based practical public health experience, preferably in a field in which you are interested in eventually working. He or she should have the ability to provide you (the student) with a potential public health project to work on and write up as part of your practicum and should provide you with the resources necessary to complete that project. It is important that your field supervisor have the skills and desire to supervise and mentor you throughout your practicum experience.

<Back to Top>

Can my academic advisor be my field supervisor?

No. Your academic advisor might become involved in your practicum project, but the field supervisor needs to be someone who can provide daily supervision in a public health workplace (not in an academic setting).

<Back to Top>

When can I start my MPH practicum?

Students are expected to complete the five core courses of the MPH program prior to beginning their practicum. In most cases, full time students will do their practicum in the first summer after they have completed two terms of the MPH program.

<Back to Top>