MPH Field Experience
Policies and Procedures
The Field Experience provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate the application of knowledge and skills learned in the program through a practice experience in a setting that is relevant to the students’ interests and areas of specialization.
Through the field experience, students will be able to:
- Apply theory, frameworks and skills in a public health or health care setting.
- Analyze and discuss the organizational, political, programmatic or operational challenges of addressing a public health or health care management issue.
- Develop a scope of work and implement a project that is linked to one or more MPH program competencies.
A field experience is required of all students in the program as a condition of graduation. Students can register (MPH 690) once they have completed the five core courses.
Management Track: Students in the management track are required to register for 2 credit hours and are required to have a minimum of 120 hours of field work.
Policy and Practice Track: Students in the policy and practice track are required to register for 3 credit hours and a minimum of 180 hours of field work.
Additional requirements for both tracks include:
- A contract with the placement site that outlines expectations
- A scope of work that includes a brief description of the project, timeline, roles deliverable(s) and competencies applied
- A final written project developed for the organization, a policy brief, a case study report or a formal report describing the work experience
Waiving the Field Experience:
As stated in the student handbook, substitution of an independent study for the field experience is permissible for students with substantial professional experience in health services management or public health. However, all students are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to broaden their experience by meeting this requirement.
Students with prior work experience in public health, health services or health policy may petition the Admissions and Academic Affairs Committee for an exemption from the field experience requirement. The exemption process does not award credit for prior experience; therefore, students must substitute other coursework or independent study for the 2 or 3 credit field experience. Students must discuss the exemption option with their academic advisors before submitting the petition.
III. Choosing the Site for the Field Experience
The field experience will play a major role in furthering the careers of MPH students. Therefore, final choice of the site should be deferred until the student has had some discussion with his or her adviser regarding career plans. Students whose career plans are uncertain should at least be able to limit the options as part of these discussions and reflect on their professional goals. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule a meeting with the adviser to discuss plans for the field placement. It is the adviser’s responsibility to monitor each advisee’s progress, and suggest when it seems appropriate to begin discussions of the appropriate site
Students do not have to obtain the placement through the Muskie School. Many students locate excellent opportunities for field experiences with organizations that they have a direct interest in, or from other personal or professional sources. The Muskie School has assisted in the placement of graduate students in a variety of organizations; public, private and non-profit, with local, state and national organizations. Many positions are paid, but there are significant opportunities for which the lack of pay is offset by the valuable experience gained.
Information regarding field experience opportunities is made available to students through a variety of methods. Informational flyers are sometimes placed in student mailboxes and posted on student bulletin boards. Additional information is available through the Office of Student Affairs, from faculty advisers, and the Muskie School student listserv. Examples of organizations where MPH students have been placed include, Maine Bureau of Medical Services, Maine Center for Disease Control, MaineHealth, Martin’s Point Health Care, Mercy Hospital, and Portland Public Health.
Methods for Approving Preceptors and Preceptor Qualifications:
Preceptors are identified through three major sources including those who: 1) have existing relationships with faculty and staff, 2) are considered respected leaders and practitioners in public health and/or health management and policy, and 3) are identified by students as a potential preceptor.
While the field experience entails either 120 or 180 hours of work over the course of an academic semester, students can be flexible in arranging work hours and location with their employers. For example, a field experience can be completed by working full time for a month during the summer.
Once a field experience placement has been obtained, the student must complete a contract form, available through the Office of Student Affairs, or from his or her adviser. The student must identify both a faculty supervisor and a site supervisor as part of this contract.
Upon completion of the field experience, the student must submit a written product. This “deliverable” can take the form of a formal report describing the work experience. For students whose placement involves a specific project, a copy of the project or report may be submitted as evidence of their experience. A grade of pass/fail is submitted upon completion of the field experience.
VII. Evaluation of Practice Placements
It is expected that the student will communicate regularly throughout the field placement. The preceptor will supervise and evaluate the student’s performance and final “deliverable.”
“Rural Vets: Their Barriers, Problems, Needs," published in the May/June 2013 issue of Health Progress (author, John Gale)
“Leadership in a Changing Environment: A Leadership Model for Child Welfare,” published in Administration in Social Work (author, Freda Bernotavicz)