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PHE 504: Graduate Internship (“Field Experience”). Orientation & Answers to Frequently Asked Questions. What is the purpose of the Field Experience?. To demonstrate and apply knowledge and skills gained during program in a real-world setting

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phe 504 graduate internship field experience

PHE 504:Graduate Internship (“Field Experience”)

Orientation & Answers to

Frequently Asked Questions

what is the purpose of the field experience
What is the purpose of the Field Experience?
  • To demonstrate and apply knowledge and skills gained during program in a real-world setting
  • To integrate theory and practice in a supervised, applied setting
  • Socialization into field of public health
  • To reflect on your learning competencies in the context of your field experience
what is phe 504
What is PHE 504?
  • “Field experience” vs. “Internship”
  • A culminating experience for students in the OMPH Health Promotion track
  • 6 credits total (200 hours), over 1 or 2* terms
    • *If over two terms, register for 3 & 3 credit hours; will be assigned “I” grade for first term until placement is complete
  • Allcore & track required classes must be completed before beginning your field experience
  • To be completed at conclusion of program
  • All students in the OMPH Health Promotion Track must register for PHE 504
what does the field experience involve
What does the Field Experience involve?
  • Participation in a project addressing a public health issue, with guidance of preceptor
  • Applying classroom experience, knowledge, and skills
  • Daily journaling of work experience and reflections about the field experience
  • Bi-weekly communication with Coordinator
  • Completing Reflective Summary Report, Evaluation, and providing examples of products developed
  • Demonstrably meeting measurable learning, track, and program competencies
what a re the prerequisites
What are the Prerequisites?
  • Complete all core and track required courses
  • Meet with advisor to discuss interests and possible sites
  • Meet with Coordinator to discuss details and approval processes, as needed
  • Complete Application and Learning Contract form; complete Field Experience Agreement (as required); provide copies of both forms to advisor and preceptor
  • Develop measurable learning competencies addressing, at minimum, HP Competencies 1, 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10
  • Note: Some sites may require background checks and vaccinations
how do i find a field p lacement
How do I find a Field Placement?
  • Research, informational interviews, exploration
  • OMPH, PSUMPH, SCH listservsand websites
  • Personal contacts and connections
  • Faculty and advisory consultations
some variables to consider
Some variables to consider…
  • Issue interests
  • Professional goals
  • Skills to apply and competencies to meet
  • Work environment
  • Opportunity logistics
  • Other restrictions or needs
  • Qualifications of preceptor
  • Must work on site (cannot work at PSU or home)
  • Must not drive clients in personal care
  • No clinical activities
  • Places you may want to work someday, as well as at those you may not!
what is the role of the preceptor
What is the role of the Preceptor?
  • Helps shape and agrees to facilitate implementation of the Learning Contract
  • Supervises and guides the student through the Field Experience
  • Completes the Student Evaluation Form (provided, with due date, by student), and returns it to the School of Community Health
  • Debriefs with faculty advisor or field experience coordinator regarding student’s performance, as necessary
what are the minimum qualifications for preceptors
What are the minimum qualifications for Preceptors
  • Public health credentials, by virtue of training and/or experience, for purposes of mentoring and evaluating the student in the application of the public health skills and knowledge developed during the MPH degree program
  • PSU faculty may not serve as preceptors
what are preceptors looking for
What are preceptors looking for?
  • Preceptors commonly evaluate students on their demonstration of:
    • Confidence in communication and demonstration of skills
    • Initiative, and ability to ask questions
    • Working well both independently and as part of a team
position d escriptions
Position Descriptions
  • The Field Experience Application and Learning Agreement packet must include a formal position description
  • Work with preceptor to develop a formal position description if one does not exist
  • Should include:
    • General description of project you will be joining
    • Placement responsibilities
    • Required Skills
    • Terms of placement (location, start/end dates, etc.)
    • Description of placement site
    • Preceptor contact information
two key questions for determining suitability of field experience site
Two Key Questions for Determining Suitability of Field Experience Site
  • Is the project “public health” in nature, such that I will be able to apply public health tools and techniques to the issues I am to address?
  • Is the preceptor of a background that s/he can guide me in the specific application of the public health tools and techniques I have learned in this program?
where have students been placed
Where have students been placed?
  • State Public Health Division
  • County Health Departments
  • Other public agencies
  • Health voluntaries, not-for-profit organizations
  • Condition-specific organizations
  • Population-specific organizations
  • Advocacy organizations
  • Insurance companies
  • School districts
  • Colleges/Universities


what duties do interns perform
What duties do interns perform?
  • Community organizing
  • Project development and/or implementation
  • Evaluation
  • Report development and writing
  • Media work
  • Research
  • Volunteer training
  • Public education
  • Development of health promotion materials
  • Advocacy
  • Policy work

…And much more!

why is the learning contract important
Why is the Learning Contract important?
  • Specifies learning competencies that determine the placement, and how they relate to track competencies
  • Identifies activities and roles you will fulfill
  • Lists the products you will develop during placement
  • Provides information about the site
  • Projects date of completion

=> Note: this is a CONTRACT. Failure to satisfactorily complete what is specified in the contract will result in not passing the placement.

what are the health promotion track competencies
What are the Health Promotion Track Competencies?
  • Apply theory in the development, implementation, and evaluation of health promotion interventions, programs, and policies
  • Develop interventions and programs to effect change at multiple levels, including individual, community, organization, and policy
  • Design and implement strategies to promote health
  • Solicit and integrate input from community and organization stakeholders
  • Design and deliver health communication messages
  • Evaluate and interpret results from program evaluations and other research
what are the health promotion track competencies continued
What are the Health Promotion Track Competencies? (continued)
  • Define research problems, frame research questions, design research procedures, and outline methods of analysis
  • Apply ethical principles that govern the practice of public health
  • Enact cultural competency in diverse social and cultural communities
  • Develop a substantive Area of Emphasis
how do i write learning competencies
How do I write Learning Competencies?

Note: Competency vs. Objective

Ensure they are SMART: specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic, time-limited

Use “Who will do How Much of What by When” format

Describe the performance of a major cognitive skill relative to your specific project activities

Identify the intended outcome or product, not the process

Develop only one competency for each skill

Create at least one Learning Competency for each identified Track Competency

Use “action verbs”

note on learning competencies and learning activities
Note on Learning Competencies and Learning Activities


  • This is your first opportunity to bring to bear all competencies from across the program in one “real world” setting; even developing competencies is a learning activity.
  • It is not expected that it will be completely “ready to go” on the first submission.
  • All projects are different – scope of work, context, final products, etc.


  • Plan for guidance and the possibility of revisions. Reviewing a draft of the matrix and job description with coordinator during the 3rd week of the term can be really helpful!
  • All Competency Matrices are different – what works for your colleagues may not apply for you
  • Do not copy, transpose, or otherwise base your competencies or contract on someone else’s.
  • Do develop your own specific, measurable, realistic, appropriate, and time-limited competencies based on the terms and deliverables of YOUR project.
are field experiences paid positions
Are Field Experiences paid positions?
  • Neither required nor expected
  • Paid position may be negotiated between preceptor and student
  • University is not involved in arrangements
what is field experience agreement if required
What is Field Experience Agreement? (if required)
  • A signed interagency agreement between PSU and field placement site
  • Delineates roles, responsibilities, and institutional terms of placement
  • Not in handbook; will be provided by Field Experience Coordinator
  • Tailored to each placement
  • If required for your placement, must be complete and on file prior to start date
  • Contact Lucy or Nicole to see if your placement requires this agreement.
how do i register for phe 504
How do I register for PHE 504?
  • Different than registering for other classes
  • Application and Learning Contract is signed by student, preceptor, and faculty advisor
  • Field Experience Agreement (if required) is signed by site agency, faculty advisor, and PSU
  • Copies of both the completed Application and Learning Contract and Field Experience Agreement (if required) should be provided to preceptor and Field Experience Coordinator
  • Student completes goldenrod colored Special Registration Form, available in SCH. Receives departmental stamp upon Field Experience Coordinator approval
  • Manual registration; please allow few extra days for processing
  • Registration is not sufficient in the absence of required documentation, which must be complete and on file by the start date of the placement – and vice versa.
how do i complete the field experience
How do I complete the Field Experience?
  • Demonstrably meet all of the measurable Learning Competencies that support learning of OMPH Track Competencies
  • Submit in hardcopy both the reflective Summary Report & Evaluation Report by Monday of the 9th week of the term in which the placement will be complete.
  • Submit in hardcopy examples of work completed (cleaned)
  • Request that Preceptor complete the Student Evaluation Form and return it to Field Experience Coordinator.
    • Note: form and due date (end of week 9) to be provided to preceptor by student
  • Complete and submit signed PHE 504 Checklist
  • Meet with advisor to debrief, as recommended
bi weekly reports
Bi-weekly reports
  • Brief activity reports are due at the end of the first two weeks of the placement, and are due in two week intervals until the end of the placement, irrespective of term breaks.
  • Must consist of concise yet sufficient detail describing work completed during the two weeks just passed, as well as planned activities for the subsequent two weeks. Note that approvals for activities not included in the contract must be gathered prior to that work beginning.
  • Reports are one opportunity to problem-solve and specify issues that have surfaced during the course of the placement. Always contact the FE Coordinator with problems requiring immediate attention.
changes to competency matrix
Changes to Competency Matrix
  • Bi-weekly reports provide the opportunity to identify challenges during the Field Experience
  • Often changes to Learning Competencies and Learning Activities are required
  • All changes must be made to the Competency Matrix using “track changes” and submitted to Field Experience Coordinator and Preceptor
  • Students must fulfill all Learning Competencies as they relate to the OMPH Track Competencies
reflective summary report components
Reflective Summary Report Components
  • This reflective report should be a minimum of 6 pages, typed, single-spaced, and should contain the following information:
    • Title Page (not in page count)
    • Introduction
    • Evaluation of Learning Competencies (start each assessment with a statement of your related learning competency)
    • Conclusion and Recommendations (i.e., reflections on specific experiences)
    • Appendices with final products (not in page count)
    • Attach: Evaluation Report(not in page count)
  • Please: No paper or plastic folder, covers, or binders
what is the purpose of an evaluation report
What is the purpose of an Evaluation Report?
  • To clearly demonstrate how your specific Learning Competencies are reflections of the required OMPH Track Competencies by addressing each activity in the matrix.
  • To reflect on the overall experience of the placement
  • To identify the challenges and successes of the experience
  • To provide ideas on how the field experience can be improved
  • To assist with future placement of students
what is the purpose of the preceptor s student evaluation form
What is the purpose of the Preceptor’s Student Evaluation form?
  • Allows the preceptor to comment on the student’s performance
  • Provides feedback to the student on his/her contributions to the organization (integrated into total feedback)
  • Provides additional information to advisor and field experience coordinator regarding student performance
  • Provides useful process information for the faculty advisor as s/he places students in the future
how is the phe 504 grade determined
How is the PHE 504 grade determined?

Placement products are reviewed by both your academic advisor and the FE Coordinator.

  • Pass:
    • Demonstrable accomplishment of ALL learning competencies
    • Preceptor’s Student Evaluation form submitted with favorable reviews
    • Required paperwork (including summary report, examples of work, FE checklist) complete and submitted
  • Not Passed:
    • Learning competencies not demonstrably met
    • Required paperwork not complete and/or submitted
    • Poor preceptor Student Evaluation
establishing a placement step by step
Establishing a placement, step-by-step
  • Step 1: Orientation
  • Step 2: Preliminary thinking
  • Step 3: Meet with Faculty Advisor
  • Step 4: Research potential sites
  • Step 5: Communicate with FE Coordinator about plans
  • Step 6: Contact sites, discuss, decide; begin draft of Application and Learning Contract
  • Step 7: Bring draft to Coordinator; begin risk management procedures, FE Agreement, and/or IRB procedures (as required)
  • Step 8: Revise and submit approved Application, Agreement, and any additional required documentation no later than the Monday of the 5th week of term prior to planned field work term,1 full term prior if international placement.

Attend Orientation & download Handbook

All: schedule with FEC;Documentation due (if international)

Register for PHE 504

Documentation due (domestic)



Meet w/Advisor;

Meet w/FEC (if international)

Bi-weekly updates




Wks 2,4,6,8

5 wks

5 wks (Monday)

Monday Week 9



-2 terms

-1 term

Meet w/ FE Coordinator to review draft project description and matrix (recommended)

summary of paperwork to be completed
Summary of paperwork to be completed

Before placement

  • Application & Learning Contract (includes position description)
  • Field Experience Agreement (as required)
  • Other risk management, travel, or IRB documentation (as required)

During placement

  • Bi-weekly email communication with Field Experience Coordinator, for duration of placement

At conclusion of placement (in hardcopy)

  • Reflective Summary Report
  • Evaluation Report
  • Examples of final products for site (cleaned)
  • Preceptor’s Student Evaluation Form
  • Graduate Field Experience Student Checklist
to prepare in advance
To prepare in advance
  • Update your resume
  • Have career objectives in writing
  • Think about skills you would like to augment before graduating when selecting a field experience
other processes
Other processes
  • Human Subjects approval (if research placement)
  • International travel approval
  • Other off-campus activities approvals, depending upon nature of placement
further information
Further information
  • For more information, please refer to the Graduate Field Experience handbook at:

  • Questions?

Lucy Cunningham

Field Experience Coordinator

Nicole Iroz-Elardo

Field Experience Assistant Coordinator