Maternal and Child Health student information

Second-year master's students, Nicole Ippoliti, Meg Pollak and Bhavya Reddy, share their summer practicum experiences during "2014 Reflections from the Field".

MCH class-2013Students at the Department of Maternal and Child Health enjoy ongoing interaction with professors and experts in the MCH field due to small class sizes and an informal, collegial environment – where relationships are a valued component of academics.

A unique attribute of this department is the supportive environment created, sustained and enjoyed by all. MCH classes are primarily conducted in Rosenau, McGavran-Greenberg and the Michael Hooker Research Center. These buildings in the School of Public Health complex offer state-of-the-art classrooms and a comfortable atmosphere for individual and group learning.

Graduate studies for MCH students extend beyond the classroom to leading MCH agencies, both domestic and international. Given the close proximity of many of these agencies, it’s no wonder that many of our students decide to stay in the area to further their studies and careers.

Field Practicum The master’s field practicum consists of individualized, experiential learning that provides students with opportunities to continue to progress in achievement of competencies and to apply their academic training to a Department-approved field site. The MCH Department has a long and successful history of placing students in health related agencies and organizations all over the world for internships that have engaged them in activities such as program assessment, monitoring and evaluation, literature reviews, community planning and program development, focus group work, research, survey development and dissemination, advocacy activities, policy analysis, and direct patient care.

Practicum Timeline

Student shares work in Zambia

Practicum Timeline


  • During orientation, in-coming students will attend a panel discussion in which students who have recently completed their field trainings will provide information and advice on finding a placement.
  • Begin discussing career goals and potential general placements with faculty advisor.
  • Submit your CV via the Sakai site.
  • Begin exploring options.
  • Advisors may be able to assist in finding potential sources of funding and placement opportunities. Information about fellowships and paid internships will be posted on the MCH Field Training Blackboard site.
  • In addition, the website and listservs associated with the Office of Global Health and the Student Global Health Committee are excellent sources of health.
  • Continue to network.
  • In a Nitty Gritty MCH Practicum Session, the Student Services Manager will discuss the general requirements of the field placement, such as registration issues, goals and objectives, funding, and deadlines.
  • Submit applications to those agencies with early deadlines.
  • Begin targeted placement search.
  • Soon after the beginning of the new semester, begin focusing on field training.
  • Interview with potential placement sites.
  • Attend Logistics Meeting organized by the Director of Career Development.
  • Register for summer session(s).
  • Apply for Departmental International Field Training Award and the Center for Global Initiatives International Internship Awards, if you are eligible.
  • Finalize field training selection – by the posted deadline in early April.
  • Begin working out the details of your learning agreement with your Faculty Advisor and Field Preceptor.
  • Submit one copy of the Learning Agreement, signed by the Faculty Advisor, Field Preceptor, and student, via the Blackboard site by the posted deadline. Submit copies of the Learning Agreement to the Faculty Advisor and Field Preceptor.
  • Career Development  Office will send confirmation letters to Field Preceptors.
  • Begin field placements.
  • Complete field placements (with exception of second-year dual degree Social Work students and students in some other circumstances).
  • Complete necessary paperwork..
  • All evaluations (student and preceptor), the database entry form, and the field report should be completed within 72 hours of completing the placement or returning to Chapel Hill after the placement, whichever is later. Extension may be requested if, for example, necessary data from the field site aren’t available. All evaluations and the database entry form are completed online. The field report must be submitted via the Blackboard site.
  • Thank you letters sent to preceptors (completed by Career Development Office).
  • Field Training Database updated (completed by Director of Career Development).
Student shares work in Zambia

lsnyderzambiaclinic_2012.jpg (378×233)Snyder (c) meets with Hygiene Club members


Lauren Snyder shares her field training experience with World Vision International in Zambia.

What was the practicum purpose: (your role, project goals, target population, etc.) As a research assistant, I was working on a study to promote higher rates of adoption of proper hygiene and sanitation in rural Zambia. We were investigating this issue because it is estimated that improper sanitation and hygiene is the cause of 30% of the under-five mortality worldwide, yet only less than one in three people in Zambia follow these types of practices.

What was the most rewarding part of your summer practicum? The most rewarding part of my practicum was the field work. Getting to speak to women and mothers about what motivates them to practice healthy behaviors for themselves and their children was an incredible experience. Also visiting schools, getting to talk to the students, and even going to a cooking lesson put on by one of the hygiene clubs were experiences that helped shape and solidify my career and research goals.

What skills did you gain as a result of your practicum? Although my Tonga language skills are still quite low (we had a translator), I gained many skills from this practicum. Since I began at the formation of this study, I learned a great deal about research project planning and study design. I also learned how to work in a different cultural and with all types of people. Further, I learned how to translate our findings to meet the interests of many different audiences, a skill that will be useful to me throughout my career!


Students enthusiastically relate experiences from their summer practica

Students enthusiastically relate experiences from their summer practica

2014 “Reflections from the field”

Second-year master’s students discussed their summer practica experiences with faculty, staff and fellow students.

Posters, photos, computer presentations, printed material and artifacts illustrated their conversations. State, regional, national and international sites were represented in the 2014 sites.

See more photos on Facebook.

Elyse Keffe discusses her work with MCH faculty member Tamar Ringel-Kulka

Elyse Keffe discusses her work with MCH faculty member Tamar Ringel-Kulka


Laptop recommendations for students:

  • Laptops are required. See the campus minimum requirements.
  • The university provides 24/7 computer support as well as on-site computer repair for PC and Mac computers purchased through the campus CCI program.
  • Our faculty members incorporate a wide variety of computer-based technologies into course content.
  • Laptops are used for course  presentations, taking notes, accessing the web, use of social media and polling tools and other course-specific software during class.
  • Students also use laptops for sharing group projects and other assignments.