Field Placement Experience
The second year field placement, which consists of full-time employment in the health/public health policy arena, provides an opportunity for students to apply their theoretical academic training in a professional health/public health policy setting, and gain skills essential to functioning as public health policy professionals.
Students may choose to pursue field placements in a wide variety of settings, including governmental agencies, consulting, advocacy, non-profit, research and professional organizations. Students are expected to take responsibility for locating and securing their field placement with the assistance of program faculty, staff, alumni, current students and employers.
Students can begin their field placements when they:
- Complete the required 64 program credits, AND
- Achieve satisfactory academic progress with a minimum overall GPA of 2.75 by the end of the 4th term AND
- Pass all required core courses with a minimum grade of C.
The minimum length of a field placement is nine months of full-time or full-time equivalent work. Many students begin their field placement employment immediately after completing their first year coursework in May, although students are not required to begin their field placements until the first day of the first term in their second year.
During the field placement, students are expected to chronicle their professional practice development in health policy/public health, as well as synthesize and integrate knowledge acquired in coursework through the completion of four (4) assignments:
- A career development paper focusing on their transition to professional practice and their role as a health policy professional (due 1st term)
- Participation in the November field placement symposium on campus with 1st year students (2nd term)
- A culminating policy analysis paper applying their academic public health training to their professional experience (3rd term)
- Presentation of their development and demonstration of competency in public health policy skills to the 1st year students in a culminating symposium (4th term)
Field Placement Goals
The goal of the field placement experience is to provide students with an intensive application of their academic training under the guidance of at least one senior level health policy/public health professional and the program faculty. Through the field placement experience, students will ascertain how health policies affect the public’s health and further develop their professional health policy competency. During the field placement experience, students are expected to accomplish the follow objectives:
- Develop practical, applied public health policy skills such as: problem analysis, oral and written communications to various audiences, quantitative analysis leading to evidence-based policy decisions, etc.
- Contribute to the organization by participating in and completing all assigned work. Where appropriate, share work with colleagues and make suggestions for additional projects that would support the organization’s mission.
- Discern their own role in the organization: how their work fits into the mission of the organization and how can they be most effective in advancing policies to protect and promote the public’s health.
- Recognize the role of the host organization within the health policy arena: how their organization fit into the “larger system” of health policy.
- Explore the internal structure, function and history of the organization and its impact on the organization’s mission and operations.
- Observe the leadership and managerial style of the preceptor and the relevance of these to the student’s field placement experience and their career advancement and development.
Selection and Approval of Field Placement Sites
Students are responsible for securing their own field placement positions, with assistance and final approval from Program staff and faculty. Students are encouraged to utilize existing Program partnerships with health policy/public health related employers via alumni contacts, recruiters, and established networking contacts. Additionally, students are encouraged to identify appropriate placements on their own. Placements can be domestic or international. Field placement opportunities will be disseminated to students via the seminar course, via email, and/or in person. Students can complete an unpaid, volunteer work experience with an organization, agency, or faculty member in lieu of paid work experience. Students must submit an official field placement offer letter to the Program for final approval.
Selection and Approval of Preceptor
A preceptor is the individual who will:
- Identify meaningful projects on which the student will work,
- Set attainable goals for the student, and
- Evaluate the student’s performance.
A preceptor will be approved by the Program if:
- S/he is at least one level of responsibility higher than the student,
- Works full-time in the organization/agency in an area related to health policy/public health,
- Has sufficient experience as a health policy/public health professional
- Is in a position to delegate, assign, and evaluate student projects/responsibilities.
The organization/agency will identify the preceptor for the student. The student is to provide the Program with the name, contact information and qualifications of the preceptor. The Program confirms the suitability and approval of the preceptor and is the main point of contact for the preceptor throughout the field placement.
During the field placement year, students must:
- Submit all required paperwork to the HPM Program, prior to the start of the field placement.
- Respond promptly to all telephone calls, emails, and other requests from HPM program advisors.
- Arrange one site visit from a program advisor; that includes meetings (or telephone/video calls) with the preceptor and others as appropriate.
- Keep preceptor informed of program responsibilities and activities.
- Demonstrate initiative in providing preceptor with feedback on assigned work and obtaining new work projects.
- Complete and submit all program assignments on time.
The preceptors are responsible for the student’s professional development during the nine-month field placement experience. Preceptors should serve as advisors and mentors providing the student with regular feedback, as well as a challenging field placement experience to further develop the student’s health policy analyst skills. The preceptor’s responsibilities are to:
- Orient the student to the organization and help them understand the role of the host organization within the health policy arena: how does this organization fit into the “larger system” of health policy?
- Allow for exploration and understanding of the internal structure, function and history of the organization and its impact on the organization’s mission and operations.
- Introduce the student to colleagues and make them aware of key sources of information.
- Collaborate with the student to develop a set of specific, measurable goals and objectives and a corresponding timeline.
- Discuss the scope of the student’s position as well as provide guidance on and plans for specific projects.
- Meet with the student regularly to address their questions, discuss progress, and address any challenges.
- Make opportunities available for the student, when appropriate, such as: higher-level meetings, relevant internal/external training sessions, etc.
- Provide performance reviews to the MSPH program at designated check ins and/or other times as appropriate. Notify the program if the student is not meeting expectations.
Benefits to the Preceptor
- An employee selected and trained by you and your colleagues.
- A continuing relationship with the program and departmental faculty, including sharing of information regarding on-going research, events and other opportunities as warranted.
- An opportunity to make a significant contribution to the education of future health policy leaders.
- An opportunity to maintain a formal partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Expectations of the MSPH Program
- Monitor the student’s progress on an ongoing basis.
- Evaluate and provide feedback on student assignments.
- Conduct a least one (1) site visit at each field placement location (preferably face-to-face, but by phone or electronically (i.e, Skype, etc.) if necessary).
- Offer ongoing career counseling during the student’s field placement year.
- Serve as a mediator/ombudsperson if a problem arises.
- Be the point of contact for the preceptor.
Evaluation of Students’ Completion of the Requirement: Program
HPM faculty and staff oversee the evaluation of the field placement as a culminating experience. Students are required to complete four (4) assignments, one per term, as a means of evaluation. The assignments include a culminating paper, blending policy knowledge and theory from the year one coursework with real world policy application from the year two field placement and presenting their competency development in a culminating symposium. The field placement is graded Pass/Fail. Specific guidance and due dates for each assignment will be disseminated at the beginning of each term. Students are required to deliver two on-campus presentations in November and a culminating symposium in April. Specific dates for the on-campus symposiums will be disseminated at the beginning of the second academic year.
Evaluation of Student’s Completion of the Requirement: Preceptor
Each preceptor is asked for feedback on the student’s performance at the site visit. Additionally preceptors complete and submit an evaluation form to the program staff near the end of the students’ placement.
Evaluation of Employment Site: Student
Students will be given an opportunity to provide written or verbal feedback about the placement site to Program staff at any time during the placement experience. Program staff will solicit formal feedback from the students during the April culminating symposium.
Final Assignment Guidelines
There are four assignments throughout the field placement, two written assignments (1st and 3rd terms) and two oral on-campus presentations in the 2nd and 4th term. Assignment specifics are provided during the 4th term of the 1st year. Students are expected to return to campus in November and April as part of the field placement requirements.
Examples of current field placement sites include:
- Offices within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
- Kaiser Family Foundation
- Baltimore City Mayor's Office
- DC Action for Children
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration