Introduction: Planning and Products
Overview of the Field Placement Experience
Student Timeline of Responsibilities
Introduces the field placement coordinator and guest lecturer and provides an overview of the field placement requirements, including the different team members. Explains the purpose and objectives of the field placement preparation course as well as the course schedule and expectations.
An integral aspect of the MPH curriculum is the Field Placement or Field Experience. The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) states, “all professional degree students must develop skills in basic public health concepts and demonstrate the application of these concepts through a practice experience that is relevant to the students’ areas of specialization.”
The purpose of a planned, supervised and evaluated Field Placement is to provide students with the opportunity to synthesize, integrate and apply practical skills and knowledge learned through courses, gain professional experience in a public health work environment, and work on public health projects that are of interest to the student and benefit to the agency.
Specific learning objectives include:
Demonstrate awareness of the functions and operations of an organization that contributes to the health of a community.
Apply appropriate public health theory, skills and knowledge to a public health or community health issue.
Complete an Action Learning Project in an area of public health practice for the participating Field Placement site.
Develop or enhance skills and knowledge in multiple areas of public health competency.
The credit hours for the Field Placement are variable. All students must complete a minimum of two credit hours (80 hours of fieldwork at or for the placement site). In special circumstances, which must be approved by the MPH Program Director, students may elect to take more credits. Typically, the Field Placement occurs during one semester, but it may be spread over two consecutive semesters if warranted. Once project work has started, students must complete the Field Placement in one calendar year.
Relationship to Capstone Project
The Field Placement and final Capstone Project are two distinct MPH curriculum requirements. However, the Field Placement could lead to a topic that can be further explored within the development of the Capstone Project, but combining the Field Placement and Capstone Project is neither required nor expected.
Prerequisites - Coursework & CITI Certification
Students must have completed, at a minimum, the core courses and, preferably, all other coursework aside from the Capstone Project. However, due to the uniqueness of the Field Placement and opportunities that may arise, exceptions may be made. Students must submit the Early Field Placement Request Form to the Program Director in these instances, and this form is available on the Field Placement Forms page.
Students engaging in a traditional Field Placement (not a Group Field Placement through the Wisconsin Center for Public Health Education and Training or another unique opportunity) should enroll in 18279 MPH Field Placement Preparation the semester before beginning project work. The Field Placement Preparation course will facilitate the students’ planning process and will incorporate all of the students’ responsibilities through the development of a proposal. A Field Placement Proposal that has been approved by the student’s Faculty Advisor and Site Preceptor is the final product of the Field Placement Preparation course.
Students are required to maintain CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) certification in the Protection of Human Research Subjects throughout the Field Placement. The course may be accessed at http://www.citiprogram.org/, and students must register for one of the following groups.
Group 1 – Biomedical Investigators, Co-Investigators, and Study Coordinators
Group 3 – Appropriate for all IRB, DSMB, DSMC, and GCRC members and everyone involved in Both Biomedical & Social/Behavioral Research
Group 4 – Social/Behavioral Research PI’s, Co-PI’s, Study Coordinators
A copy of the Human Research Curriculum Completion Report should be submitted to the Program Coordinator via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 414-955-6529.
Presentation: IRB Review Processes for MPH Students (PDF): Provides general information about IRBs and the IRB consultant review of your field placement proposals. Describes how to determine whether your project will need to go through a formal IRB review process, and explains general IRB review processes at MCW and elsewhere.
Field Placement arrangements are ultimately the responsibility of the student and subject to approval by the MPH Program Director. Upon matriculation into the MPH Program, students will develop a plan of study. Students should immediately begin to consider Field Placement sites and the semester in which they plan to enroll in this program. During the annual evaluation conducted by the Program Director, plans regarding the Field Placement will be reviewed.
A Student Interest Form, current resume or CV, and completed Competency Self Assessment should be submitted to the Program Coordinator during the Field Placement Preparation course, approximately four months prior to beginning the Field Placement. These documents are available on the Field Placement Forms page, and students should contact the Program Coordinator to further discuss the Field Placement.
Waiver from Field Placement Requirement
Students with previous public health employment may be eligible for a waiver. Requests for waivers will be considered and approved by the Program Director on an individual basis. In general, the Field Placement experience may be waived for students who have a bachelor's or advanced degree in health or a related profession and at least five years of continuous, paid public health experience. The possession of a prior professional degree in another field (e.g. MD, RN) or prior work experience that is not closely related to the academic objectives of the student’s degree program is not sufficient reason for waiving the Field Placement requirement.
Students must submit a waiver application form that includes the description of the Field Placement equivalent experience along with a resume or CV and a completed Competency Self Assessment during the first semester of enrollment. If a student is granted a waiver, the credits will need to be acquired through other coursework.
Residents in preventive medicine, occupational medicine, aerospace medicine, and public health and general preventive medicine who are earning their MPH as the academic year of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accredited preventive medicine residency and who then undertake the residency practicum year immediately after completing MPH didactic coursework, may count their practicum year as the required Field Placement experience for the MPH Program.
Developing a Project
Action Learning Project
The Action Learning Project the student completes during the Field Placement is developed in collaboration with the placement site, the MPH Program and the student, and it should be in alignment with the student’s desired learning objectives and competencies. The project may entail working individually or with an interdisciplinary agency team on a public health problem or initiative. Examples of projects may include:
Program Design and Implementation. Students work to develop and implement an agency program in areas such as health promotion or community intervention.
Program Evaluation. Students conduct an evaluation of an agency program to determine effectiveness and outcomes.
Community Assessment. Students assist in conducting a community health needs assessment.
Community Health Planning. Students assist in various aspects of developing a community health improvement plan.
Grant Proposals. Students contribute to the research, drafting and submission of a funding proposal.
Public Health Policy. Students research and analyze a public policy or develop an advocacy statement related to a public health issue.
Applied Research. Students conduct research on a topic of mutual interest with the Field Placement site.
Presentation: Developing a Project: Explains how to develop an action learning project with your site. Describes appropriate projects and collaborative development, and provides examples of previous students’ projects. Outlines the preparatory responsibilities of each team member as well as the logistics of the first team meeting.
After identifying the site and Preceptor, students will develop a Field Placement Proposal in conjunction with the Preceptor and with advice from the Faculty Advisor. The Field Placement Proposal form is available on the Field Placement Forms page, and students should refer to their Competency Self Assessment as a basis for determining specific competencies to be attained. The final proposal must be submitted to the Program Coordinator during the Field Placement Preparation course, at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the student’s project.
Students may not enroll in Field Placement until this proposal has been approved by the Preceptor, Faculty Advisor, IRB Consultant and Program Coordinator. The MPH Program will determine which Action Learning Projects will need to undergo a formal Medical College of Wisconsin IRB review. Additional site IRB requirements are the responsibility of the student and Preceptor.
Presentation: Developing your Proposal - Part 2: Explains the last three sections of the proposal form: chart of competencies and learning objectives, responsibilities, and agreement and approval. Describes the organization of the chart as well as how to write learning objectives, identify competencies, and determine evidence.
Field Placement Sites
Selection Criteria for Sites:
Program Director approval. The MPH Program must have a completed Field Placement Application form on file.
Availability of a qualified Preceptor. The site must have someone with substantial experience in public health (or related discipline) who is willing and able to spend time with the student and provide constructive feedback and guidance.
Appropriateness and relevance of experiences offered to students. Students should have the opportunity to engage in substantive tasks that enable them to further develop and apply specific skills and competencies related to public and community health.
Availability of resources. Students should be provided with resources (i.e. desk, phone, computer, etc.) necessary to complete assigned tasks.
Student and agency match. It is essential that the student needs and agency needs match.
Students are encouraged to select a site other than their regular place of employment. If that is not a feasible option, the Field Placement may be completed at the place of employment provided the activities and proposed Action Learning Project extend beyond regular job responsibilities and allow application of the knowledge and skills being learned. In addition, the Preceptor must be someone other than the student’s current supervisor.
Contacting Potential Sites
Site selection is made in collaboration with the student, the Program Coordinator and the organization. However, the student is expected to initiate the identification of a Field Placement site and may consider personal and/or professional contacts, faculty recommendations or opportunities suggested by the Program Coordinator.
A letter of introduction from the Program Director and Coordinator is available. Addressed to a potential Site Preceptor, this letter describes the course, and students could utilize it when recruiting a site.
Some agencies may offer a stipend. The possibility of monetary compensation is to be negotiated directly between the student and agency. The MPH Program is not involved in these negotiations.
Field Placement Products
Monthly Log (Submitted each month)
The log is used to document activities pursued, hours completed, learning objectives fulfilled, competencies achieved and reflections observed during the Field Placement. Field Placement Logs should be submitted at least monthly to the Faculty Advisor and Program Coordinator.
The form for the Field Placement Log is located on the Field Placement Forms webpage. Further instructions are provided on the form, and samples of previous students' logs are available on the Forms webpage.
Midpoint Progress Report (Submitted 2-3 days before Midpoint Review)
Approximately halfway through the Field Placement, the student, Site Preceptor, and Faculty Advisor are expected to conduct a Midpoint Review.
The student will complete an initial draft of the Midpoint Progress Report and send it to the Site Preceptor, Faculty Advisor, and Program Coordinator before the meeting.
During the meeting, the report may be used as a guideline for discussion regarding the student’s progress and accomplishments, any barriers that have been encountered, and plans for completing the project.
After the meeting, the student will revise the Midpoint Progress Report, and the Site Preceptor and Faculty Advisor will approve it.
The form for the Midpoint Progress Report is located on the Field Placement Forms webpage. Further instructions are provided on the form, and samples of previous students' reports are available on the Forms webpage, as well.
Action Learning Project Summary Report (Submitted 2-3 days before Exit Interview)
Students are expected to prepare and submit an Action Learning Project Summary Report at the end of the Field Placement. The report must be at least 12 pages in length (double-spaced, 12 point font, 1 inch margins), excluding references, tables and appendices. The specific format may vary depending on the type of project.
The report should summarize the project(s), present observations and reflections of the Field Placement experience, and include the following elements:
Description of the agency
Description of the public health problem
Overall project plan, including learning objectives
Implementation of the project/methods used
Application of results/public health significance
Application of MPH coursework
Overall quality of the Field Placement experience
PowerPoint Presentation (Submitted with Action Learning Project Summary Report)
Students may be asked to present their work to a community board or an agency department or group. Even if students do not formally present their work, they must submit a PowerPoint Presentation to the Program Coordinator. This presentation may be used to share the student’s results and experience and to serve as an example of a Field Placement for future students.
Available as: PPT PDF
Evaluation & Grading
Student performance is based on the Preceptor’s evaluation of the student using a standard form provided by the program as well as the Faculty Advisor’s evaluation of the Field Placement Logs, Midpoint Progress Report, Action Learning Project Summary Report, and PowerPoint presentation. Other work products may be appropriate depending on the nature of the student’s work during the Field Placement.
The final grade is determined by the student’s Faculty Advisor with input from the Preceptor. The student is assigned a grade of Excellent, Good, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. A student whose performance is evaluated as Unsatisfactory will need to retake the course. A breakdown of the grading is as follows:
Feedback from Site Preceptor – 35%
Field Placement Log - 20%
Midpoint Progress Report – 5%
Action Learning Project Summary Report - 35%
PowerPoint Presentation - 5%
Students are also required to participate in an Exit Interview with the Preceptor, Faculty Advisor and Program Coordinator.