Practicum Linked to Capstone
Students are encouraged to link the practicum and capstone requirements when appropriate.
The practicum and the capstone are two distinct requirements of the MPH program. The capstone project is an academic requirement that integrates the experience with the overall MPH curriculum. The intent of the practicum project is to align the activities with the student's career goals, as well as demonstrate application of public health concepts and critical thinking relevant to the student’s area of interest. The practicum experience may include group projects while the capstone must be an individual effort.
The practicum can be either practice-based or research-based experiences that may be linked to a capstone project. For example:
- For a practice-based practicum experience, the result may be a deliverable appropriate to an outside organization; the student could then expand upon this experience for their capstone project.
- For a research-based practicum experience, the student could extend the analyses into a more detailed research report for their capstone project.
If a student decides to link the two requirements, the student should have discussions early on in the planning process with their Faculty Advisor, Capstone Advisor, and either the MPH Academic Administrator or the Practicum Coordinator to ensure that the two requirements are distinct.
This table compares the purpose and requirements for the practicum and the capstone.
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The following are examples of how a practicum and capstone project were linked.
Assessment of Sexual Healthcare in Safety Net Providers Sites
Practicum: The student worked with a state department of health population health improvement office to assist in the development of a more holistic approach to HIV and STIs treatment. The student conducted background research on sexual health standard protocols and best practices from other states, as well as identified stakeholders from around the state. Additionally, the student created an asset-mapping tool for providers to identify the current screening and treatment procedures for STIs and HIV, including social services offered.
Capstone paper: The student expanded on their practicum work to document the development and evaluation of the asset-mapping tool. The capstone report included a summary of how the assessment tool was developed as well as preliminary results that will inform the development of standard protocols for HIV and STIs treatment.
Cancer Screening Compliance Among Clients with Program Discharge History
Practicum: The student worked with a state health department to evaluate cancer screening compliance among clients who have left a breast and cervical cancer screening assistance program. The program provides cancer screenings, case management, and patient navigation services for the uninsured or under insured. The project looked specifically at clients who gained insurance coverage and were no longer eligible for the program, and whether or not the clients continued cancer screenings after gaining insurance coverage. The student organized client data collected from a database as well as program charts. In addition, the student conducted interviews with local program staff and clients.
Capstone: The student expanded on the practicum work for the Capstone by organizing the information reviewed and collected into a final report that synthesized findings from the cancer screening analysis and offered insight into the importance and effectiveness of the program as well as strengths and weaknesses of the program. The report provided recommendations for future programming.
Home Health Agency and Nursing Home Utilization and Trends
Practicum: The student worked with the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) to understand the importance of different types of health care organizations in serving post-acute and long-term care through data analysis on Maryland home health agency utilization trends.
Capstone: The student then expanded the practicum work for the Capstone paper by analyzing nursing home utilization trends and outcomes in Maryland using Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data.
Development and Evaluation of Education Materials for Refugees in Baltimore City
Practicum: The student first completed a practicum experience through the course Health Literacy: Challenges and Strategies for Effective Communication. In the course, the student worked as part of a team to develop educational materials to improve health literacy among refugees in Baltimore City.
Capstone: The student then built on the practicum course work by developing an implementation and evaluation plan for the educational materials.
Knowledge Management in the Non-profit Sector: Development of an Operations Manual for One Brick
Practicum: The student assisted a non-profit organization to write an Operations Manual. To develop the manual, the student collected information through phone and in-person interviews with key leadership.
Capstone: The student then built on the practicum experience for her Capstone paper. The Capstone paper included a literature review about the importance of knowledge management in the non-profit sector, a description of a theoretical framework to implement a knowledge management system, and an explanation of the real-world application of the theoretical framework, including lessons learned and suggestions for the future implementation.