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The Office of Public Health Practice & Training

Practicum Process for Preceptors

Below describes the step-by-step practicum process for preceptors.  You may also download a copy of the Preceptor Information for the MPH Practicum. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

 

Step 1: Develop a Practicum Opportunity
Step 2: Submit a Practicum Opportunity
Step 3: Conduct student interviews/selection
Step 4: Orient student
Step 5: Assist Student with the Practicum Learning Plan
Step 6: Provide Project Information
Step 7: Supervise the student
Step 8: Evaluate the student
Special Considerations
References

Step 1: Develop a Practicum Opportunity

Once you have decided that you are willing to serve as a preceptor and that your organization is able to offer a student practicum project, the next step is to develop a practicum opportunity.  Consider the needs of your organization and how a project could fulfill that need.  The best projects are those that are well-defined, specific, and can be completed in a specified time period.  A practicum must have realistic expectations and objectives and must be competency-based (see the MPH Practicum Learning Objectives).  It is important to clearly state any skills or knowledge required to complete the project (e.g., familiarity with computer statistical software or foreign language fluency).

Below is the general information that is required to submit a practicum opportunity:

You can review example practicum projects HERE.

If you would like assistance developing your practicum project, please contact the MPH Practicum Coordinator, Jennifer Le at jle@jhu.edu, 410-502-8952.

Step 2: Submit a Practicum Opportunity

When you have developed a practicum opportunity, you will submit the opportunity through the Practicum Opportunity Site

For more details about how to navigate the Practicum Opportunity Site, review the Practicum Opportunity Site 101.

Step 3: Conduct student interviews/selection

You determine the application procedure, as well as the number of students you choose to interview.  To have a better chance of finding the right student, it is suggested to interview several students.  In-person interviews are encouraged to better assess the applicants, as well as to allow the student(s) to experience the travel from their location to your organization’s office.  However, if necessary, phone or videoconference interviews are acceptable.  After you have selected a student, please inform JHSPH that the position has been filled.  JHSPH will then remove your opportunity from the student search site so that students will not continue to contact you about your opportunity.

Step 4: Orient student

After you have selected a student, you will need to orient the student to your organization, (i.e., review the organization’s history, mission, goals, vision, work on a day to day basis, etc.).  We encourage you to introduce the students to other staff to allow the student to gain an understanding of the workplace culture.  It is important to discuss work logistics, including exchange of contact information, work hours, procedures for absences, parking, ID badges, computer log-ins, etc. 

Step 5: Assist Student with the Practicum Learning Plan

The next step is to assist the student with the Practicum Learning Plan.  The Practicum Learning Plan is an agreement completed by the student in collaboration with the preceptor, outlining what activities are to be undertaken during what time frame, and outlining the roles and responsibilities of the student and preceptor.  The purpose of the plan is to ensure that all parties understand and agree upon the practicum activities.  It is VERY IMPORTANT to work with the student to complete and both sign off on this document as soon as possible.

Step 6: Provide Project Information

Provide the student with necessary information, guidance and instruction for them to develop the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to successfully carry out the project.  This may include providing background information, other pertinent project information (e.g., reports, memos, fact sheets, etc.), and directing the student to research the topic (e.g., literature review, seek best practices, etc.).

Step 7: Supervise the student  

During the course of the practicum, regularly scheduled face-to-face check-ins with the student are strongly encouraged to remain aware of student progress as well as answer questions or address any concerns.  It is important to have an alternate preceptor available in your absence.  If there are ever any problems at any time, please contact JHSPH as soon as possible. 

If available and time permits, identify other opportunities, outside of the practicum, that will enrich the experience by further exposing the student to the “flavor” of working at the practicum site (e.g. staff meetings, conference calls, community meetings, etc.). 

Step 8: Evaluate the student  

During the course of the practicum experience, there are two required preceptor evaluations.  The first is the mid-term Progress Report.  The second is the final student Evaluation.  In the Practicum Learning Plan, you will develop a timeline that will include evaluation due dates.  The JHSPH practicum team will then send you a reminder in advance of the due dates.

Special Considerations

 

Institutional Review Board – Human Subjects Research

If your project involves data about individual living people (e.g. personal health information, individual identifiers such as address, birthdate, race/ethnicity), Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval may be required.  If you think that your practicum project might require IRB approval, please indicate this in the practicum opportunity description.  JHSPH will then follow up with you to discuss this with you further.  If your project does need IRB approval, JHSPH will be in touch with you to discuss further (which may delay project approval).

Legal Standard for Unpaid Internships

For unpaid practicum, projects need to be in compliance with the following Fair Labor Standards Act guidelines:

We also urge preceptors to have a discussion with students to ensure that the scope of the project is appropriate for the timeframe and capabilities of the students.  In the event that the project scope changes or becomes larger than what the student can handle in the given timeframe, the preceptor and student should re-evaluate the expectations so that both parties mutually benefit from the outcome.  Please notify JHSPH of any changes in the project scope, note also that JHSPH is available to provide assistance with any problems, questions, or concerns.

References

Portions of this web page were adapted from the following:

University of Michigan School of Public Health, Office of Public Health Practice.  (2011-2012).  Field Experience Preceptor Handbook.  Ann Arbor, MI.  Retrieved from http://practice.sph.umich.edu/practice/files/pdf/PreceptorHandbook2011-2012Electronic.pdf

George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services.  (August 2012).  GW SPHHS Practicum Site Preceptor Guide. Washington, DC.  Retrieved  from http://sphhs.gwu.edu/studentres/practicum/download/SP%20Guidebook.pdf