Frequently Asked Questions for Preceptors
What are the competencies that students select from to focus on for their practicums?
The competencies listed below represent traditional public health core knowledge areas (biostatistics, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, health services administration and environmental health sciences), as well as cross-cutting and emerging public health areas. These competencies were developed by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).
Evidence-based Approaches to Public Health
- Apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practice
- Select quantitative and qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context
- Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming and software, as appropriate
- Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy or practice
Public Health & Health Care Systems
- Compare the organization, structure and function of health care, public health and regulatory systems across national and international settings
- Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community and societal levels
Planning & Management to Promote Health
- Assess population needs, assets and capacities that affect communities’ health
- Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs
- Design a population-based policy, program, project or intervention
- Explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management
- Select methods to evaluate public health programs
Policy in Public Health
- Discuss multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence
- Propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes
- Advocate for political, social or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations
- Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity
- Apply principles of leadership, governance and management, which include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration and guiding decision making
- Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges
- Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors
- Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation
- Describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content
- Perform effectively on interprofessional teams
- Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue
What are the preceptor requirements?
A qualified preceptor must be willing to commit time to supervising a student and providing feedback on student’s work. The preceptor should have knowledge of the student project in order to guide the student throughout the process. A preceptor who is not a faculty member of JHSPH must submit a resume or CV to the Office of Public Health Practice and Training at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit the preceptor responsibilities page.
What organizations are qualified to host a student?
Practicum placements can be in a variety of organizations, including local and state public health agencies, community-based organizations, as well as international non-governmental agencies and organizations.
In general, organizations should meet the following criteria:
- An existing organization with official status (e.g. 501c3, governmental agency, etc.) or a sustainable funding structure
- A history of ongoing public health practice-related work (e.g., programs, services, policy work, etc.)
- A public office location for the organization (liability issues prevent us from sending JHU students to someone’s home, even if that person is a well-intentioned individual)
- Willingness and ability to collaborate with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH)
- A qualified preceptor that will guide the student in the project and serve as the liaison with JHSPH
What are the qualifications of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health MPH students?
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) Master of Public Health (MPH) students come with a variety of skills and experiences. A requirement for admission to the MPH program is at least two years of full-time, post-baccalaureate, health-related work experience or a doctoral degree in a field underlying public health. There is a diversity of professions in the MPH student body – approximately 50 percent of full-time MPH students are physicians or med students, and 10 percent are clinicians (e.g. nurses, dentists, pharmacists, etc.), with the remaining 40 percent from a variety of professions such as policy analysts, engineers, research assistants, lawyers, teachers, peace corps volunteers, case managers, computer system specialists, etc. Students come into the program highly motivated to protect the public’s health and are required to complete coursework in the five core public health areas (epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy and management, environmental health, and social and behavioral sciences).
Can research or lab activity fulfill a practicum requirement?
Yes. As long as the student is working at an organization or agency engaged in public health work, such as a state health department or a data coordinating center for a clinical trial or cohort study. In research or lab-orientated practicum, the student will need to have some involvement in the interpretation of results and/or the larger public health implications of the work.
Can a practicum be done at a student’s former or current place of employment?
Yes. A practicum can be completed at a current or former place of employment, as long as the practicum is distinct from any on-going work the student is being paid for and is determined to meet the required criteria.
Can the practicum be a paid experience?
Yes, but payment is not required. If there is payment involved, the preceptor and student must negotiate the terms; JHSPH is not involved in arranging any form of payment.
Can the practicum be a service project?
The primary focus needs to fulfill a need that is not solely “direct service.” Students may be involved in “direct service”, but these activities cannot comprise the majority of the practicum experience. Examples of “direct service” include filing, serving food, and data entry. The work should add something to the organization’s knowledge, process, etc. In a service-oriented context, students should have some involvement at the program or policy level (program design, evaluation, etc.).
Does the preceptor-student relationship need to be one-on-one?
In many cases the preceptor-student relationship will be one-on-one. However, the practicum can be teamed-based if the project meets required practicum criteria for each student.
Does the preceptor-student interaction need to be in-person?
While in-person interaction is preferred, it is not always possible. As long as the preceptor is providing directions, feedback, and guidance throughout the practicum experience, preceptor-student interaction can be conducted via technologies such as Skype, email, phone calls, etc.
Are deliverables required for the practicum?
Yes. Students are required to provide final deliverables that are mutually agreed upon by the student and the preceptor in the practicum learning plan. The format and content of the final deliverables need to be in-line with the defined learning objectives and contribute to the student’s career growth and development.
Can a student be the supervisor or principle investigator for their practicum project?
Can the Practicum also fulfill the Capstone Requirement?
A student may build on their practicum experience to complete their capstone as long as the capstone and practicum projects are distinct and both meet the required criteria. Below is an example of a practicum that was extended into a capstone project:
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.
For more examples of how a practicum and capstone was linked, see HERE.
In the Practicum Opportunity Site, can one person submit multiple projects for my organization?
Yes, one person can submit multiple projects for your organization, but you must identify a unique preceptor for each project.
What is the role of the alternate preceptor?
The role of the alternate preceptor is to be the back-up person for the primary preceptor. The alternate preceptor could be more involved if they like, but it is not required. What is required is to take over for the primary preceptor if the primary preceptor is not available.