Practicum FAQ's for Students
- What is the practicum?
- Who is involved in the practicum?
- Can I do a practicum on a part time basis?
- How do I apply for a specific practicum?
- Can I find my own practicum site and field supervisor?
- Is the practicum project the only thing I do while on my practicum?
- I would like to do an MPH practicum at my place of employment. Is this possible?
- Who should be my field supervisor?
- Can my academic advisor be my field supervisor?
- When can I start my MPH 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.
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.
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.
The MPH Program Director must approve any request for substantial alteration in the practicum duration, or any significant modification in scheduling the 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.
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.
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.
Students may, with approval from the MPH Program Director, 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.
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.
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).
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.