honeysuckle

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Jul 12, 2008
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Hey Guys--I don't think I've posted much here since the time I was preparing to start my MPH program last year. I'm currently planning my summer practicum and just went to my first interview today with an organization that partners with my school to have students work on various projects (i.e. it's an unpaid practicum, there's not a specific position to fill for an internship placement, they just stick you in a project wherever your interests may lie). So when the program manager interviewing me asked what my time frame was and how many hours a week I wanted to work, I said I'd like to work enough hours to get a substantive practicum experience, so maybe something in the arena of 20 hours per week. She seemed to drop dead when I gave her that number. She said 20 hours a week was a lot, some of the smaller projects have students only working around 5 hrs per week, I don't know if we can accommodate you, blah blah. Obviously the interview didn't go well after that.

So then what is the typical MPH practicum like? Does the average student just drop in to their practicum site a few hours a week and do some fluff work? I know most of you are applying to programs and haven't gotten into this process yet, but if there's anyone who does have more of a clue than me or some current or former MPH students here, do chime in on this one....
 

jkmph

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I'm at Emory, and here are my 2 cents...

I believe the requirements for our practicum are 200-600 hours of public health employment. Obviously the umbrella term public health covers a lot of ground and is intentionally obtuse.

Some students used their FWS employment from their first year as their practicum. In my case that would have been bench work, for others it was doing policy work or research at the CDC.

I also did a paid summer internship for my state CDC working 40 hours a week. This is what I used for my practicum. I had to fill out some BS on Emory's practicum client and have my summer supervisor sign off on it. Case closed.

It's really not that big of a deal but my advise would be to talk to your advisor or departmental administration for clarification.
 

Stories

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At BU, I did a 4 credit practicum where I worked the part of the spring (10hrs/wk) and the full summer (20hrs/wk). I forget what the total time commitment was (somewhere in the ballpark of 150-200 hours), but there were some forms to fill out and we had to attend/present a poster session. Other than that, you should just do what you want to do.

There are options for folks to do a 2 credit or 0 credit practicum which require fewer hours, but really, the practicum should be what you want to make of it. This will be your only major work experience before graduation, so you should make it an opportunity to get experience doing something you want to do. Otherwise, finding a job becomes much harder.
 

honeysuckle

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Thanks for the replies, folks. I must say I was a bit alarmed and disconcerted after today; I didn't know if my expectations of 20 hours a week for an unpaid practicum were unrealistic or unreasonable (I haven't even bothered looking into the paid practicum positions because they're apparently much more competitive to get). Where I'm going the school just started a new policy that your practicum needs to be 112 hours minimum regardless of how many credits you sign up for.

Even unpaid job hunting is a pain in the butt.
 
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Hi Stories---from Yale's published MPH schedule, it appears that the summer vacation is nearly 4 months long. I understand that most people do their practicum during this time, but from what I've read here it seems that the practicum itself is not that time intensive (you mentioned 200hrs for 4 credits) which could be done working full time for 5 weeks. What do students usually do in that extra time (2.5months)? Vacation? Or do students do extra long practicums for even more credit? Maybe students do more than one practicum?
 

Stories

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Hi Stories---from Yale's published MPH schedule, it appears that the summer vacation is nearly 4 months long. I understand that most people do their practicum during this time, but from what I've read here it seems that the practicum itself is not that time intensive (you mentioned 200hrs for 4 credits) which could be done working full time for 5 weeks. What do students usually do in that extra time (2.5months)? Vacation? Or do students do extra long practicums for even more credit? Maybe students do more than one practicum?
People just do the internship the whole summer usually. I suppose for some internships could be done for just a short period of time, but many find full time work and just exceed the time requirement. It's not a requirement that is a maximum, it's a minimum. Also, those numbers were for BU, not Yale. :)
 
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God its gonna be hard ;)
 
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I would say if you work 20 hours a week, you should get paid. For an unpaid practicum, 5-10 hours should be fine.

I am going to work in the local health related partners with ASU MPH program, and this requires 20 hours a week, and they pay a small stipend.


Thanks for the replies, folks. I must say I was a bit alarmed and disconcerted after today; I didn't know if my expectations of 20 hours a week for an unpaid practicum were unrealistic or unreasonable (I haven't even bothered looking into the paid practicum positions because they're apparently much more competitive to get). Where I'm going the school just started a new policy that your practicum needs to be 112 hours minimum regardless of how many credits you sign up for.

Even unpaid job hunting is a pain in the butt.
 

Music333

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Is the number of hours for the practicum the same for every school? If so, how many?
 

honeysuckle

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Is the number of hours for the practicum the same for every school? If so, how many?
No, it's not the same for every school. The hours may be different depending on the school (and I think that link that cakes put up may have old, out-of-date information; either that, or the requirements for a practicum vary depending on your concentration at BU ;))
 
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Each school/program requirements are different. I would suggest contacting you fieldwork/practicum coordinator and asking what is expected and then inform the employer you plan to work with what the school requires and if they can accommodate you. If not, you'll have to look for another site to work at.
 

dweji16

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As everyone here said, practicum requirements differ for every school.

Ours had the option of doing a shorter practicum abroad, which I had wanted to do from the start, so that's what I did.

Went to Panama for a very intense practicum, and learned everything I could possibly learn about healthcare in Panama, and went to different communities to see healthcare in action. We also went to areas with extreme extreme poverty which was really life-changing. And to top it off, most of the students got sick including me (was told I might have dengue... that was wonderful news), and thus had to use the Panamanian healthcare system ourselves (ironic really.. we went to provide care, and instead had to get it ourselves). Ended up with bronchitis for a month after the trip.

So... that was my experience. Would I do it again? A million times over. I'm going to Spain this summer to mentor this year's MPH students during their practicum, so really excited.
 

honeysuckle

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As everyone here said, practicum requirements differ for every school.

Ours had the option of doing a shorter practicum abroad, which I had wanted to do from the start, so that's what I did.

Went to Panama for a very intense practicum, and learned everything I could possibly learn about healthcare in Panama, and went to different communities to see healthcare in action. We also went to areas with extreme extreme poverty which was really life-changing. And to top it off, most of the students got sick including me (was told I might have dengue... that was wonderful news), and thus had to use the Panamanian healthcare system ourselves (ironic really.. we went to provide care, and instead had to get it ourselves). Ended up with bronchitis for a month after the trip.

So... that was my experience. Would I do it again? A million times over. I'm going to Spain this summer to mentor this year's MPH students during their practicum, so really excited.
I am so jealous.

My school has opportunities to go abroad as well, but due to various reasons and personal constraints, they aren't feasible for me. (No, I'm not an international health concentrator, needless to say...)