NC Public Health Leaders in Practice

A Practicum Program for UNC Graduate Students in Public Health

Details about the 2014 program will be coming soon.

Overview | Program Partners | Program description | Practica Sites |Timeline | Application process

Presentation by former PHLP scholar
Teen Pregnancy Prevention in Rutherford County, NC: Linking the County Health Rankings with Public Health Practice, presented by Rachel Ross at the 2013 NC Public Health Association Annual Meeting.


The UNC-Gillings School of Global Public Health and its partners are pleased to introduce a new student practicum/internship program designed to increase opportunities for residential graduate students in the school to gain practice experience via academic credit-bearing field practica in local public health agencies in North Carolina. This initiative has unique characteristics that will distinguish it from a typical field practicum while still meeting current departmental practica requirements.

Program partners

Student Experiences
My training allows me to start conversations, improve the body of knowledge in the field and propose new ways of looking at old data. This ultimately leads to innovative programs that are both effective and efficient in their use of resources.

Meghan Lewis, 2011 Public Health Leader in Practice
Read more about Meghan's experience

During my time at the Health Department, I was fortunate to work on a variety of projects, gain exposure to decision-making processes and build experience working with clinical staff in both the health and dental clinics.

Jessica Southwell, 2012 Public Health Leader in Practice
Read more about Jessica's experience: Overview | Summary

This internship allowed me to gain exposure to public health practice outside of my studies and to apply my skills to improve operations at a local health department.

Thomas Tran, 2012 Public Health Leader in Practice
Read more about Thomas's experience

  • UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • North Carolina Institute for Public Health
  • North Carolina Area Health Education Centers Program
  • North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors
  • North Carolina Division of Public Health
  • The North Carolina Public Health Foundation

Program Description

Students and host agencies will be selected via a formal, competitive application process.

A host agency may be either an individual local health department (LHD), a regional consortium of LHDs, or the state health department.

Preceptors will interview prospective students (likely by telephone) before final selections are made. A specially-appointed Application Review Committee will review the students’ applications and review the agencies’ opportunity submissions, and will make the student/agency “matches”.

Practica will take place for 6-10 weeks (at least 200 hours) in the summer between the students’ first and second years of their graduate program. Students will receive a stipend to participate in the program.

Students will participate in up to three required public health leadership seminars/workshops, led by the Workforce Development staff of the North Carolina Institute for Public Health (NCIPH), prior to departing for their field assignment.

Upon completion of their summer practicum experience, students will be required to complete a culminating report or paper, according to the requirements of their home department.

Upon selection, students will apply to live in housing subsidized via agreement with the NCAHEC system whenever possible. When AHEC housing is not possible, the host LHD will assist the student in identifying housing.

Practica Sites

Six sites were chosen for the 2013 practica: Brunswick County Health Department, Robeson County Health Department, Wilkes County Health Department, Granville/Vance Health District, Richmond County Health Department, and Rutherford County Health Department. Click here for descriptions of the projects for each health department.

Teams of two or three students from different fields were assigned to each site.

2013 Timeline

Thursday, January 31 12:00-4:00 pm

UNC SPH Career & Internship Fair

Friday, February 1

Application becomes live online; projects are posted online

Friday, March 1

Application deadline

Week of March 11-15

Placement committee reviews applications (SPH spring break)

Week of March 18-22

Students are notified of placement committee’s decision

Week of March 25-29

Applicants interview with preceptors

Monday, April 1

Practicum placement is confirmed; students apply for AHEC housing

Week of May 6


May 13-August 16

Summer practicum (students arrange hours with preceptors between these dates)


Mid-practicum check-in; seminars/workshops

Wednesday, August 28

Completed evaluations and culminating reports/papers are due

Application process

The following items are due by 5:00 pm on March 1, 2013.

  • Online Student Application Form
  • Academic Reference Form completed, signed, and submitted by your professor or academic advisor
  • Letter of Recommendation, also signed and submitted by your professor or academic advisor, elaborating on your suitability for the program, on official letterhead

Items 2 and 3 above can be mailed to:

NC Public Health Leaders in Practice
c/o Dorothy Cilenti, DrPH, MSW
North Carolina Institute for Public Health
CB# 8165
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8165

or they can be hand-delivered to:

NC Public Health Leaders in Practice
c/o Dorothy Cilenti, DrPH, MSW
North Carolina Institute for Public Health
400 Roberson Street
Carrboro, NC 27510

The NCPHLP Program welcomes applications from students from all backgrounds, and especially encourages students from under-represented communities to apply.

This program is funded by the Bureau of Health Professions of the Health Resources and Services Administration though a grant to the Southeast Public Health Training Center.