The practicum is a planned, supervised and evaluated experience that connects students into communities around the world to bridge what they have learned in the classroom into public health practice.
All professional public health degree students at the masters and doctoral levels complete a practicum, typically working within organizations during the summer months (May – August) between their first and second year. A practicum can occur anywhere, in domestic or international settings, and be paid or unpaid.
Projects are selected and work is designed based on each student’s experience, abilities and interests, as well as the organization’s needs. During the practicum, students may contribute to organizational needs for program planning and evaluation design, data analysis, policy development, epidemiological investigations, social marketing and communication campaigns, and so much more. Faculty and staff support the student throughout the experience and preceptors within the host organization provide mentorship and guidance.
The practicum offers students the opportunity to
- gain practical skills and knowledge;
- address community-identified needs;
- assist in finding solutions to public health problems;
- receive mentorship and guidance by leaders in the field;
- gain feedback on professional skills and abilities; and
- build a network with public health professionals, agencies and community groups.
- Find a practicum. While students are responsible for securing a practicum placement, there are many supports in place at the Gillings School and at the department level to assist in this process. From global internships and funding to local opportunities in North Carolina, students are able to pursue an experience that meets their career development needs and interests by working with non-profit organizations, coalitions, private businesses, foundations, and local, state, tribal, federal and international agencies and governments.
- Develop the practicum experience. A practicum should be a planned, supervised and evaluated experience that provides students the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained at the Gillings School in a real-world setting. Students will work with their preceptor and faculty advisor to identify objectives and competencies to track and evaluate the student’s performance.
- Get the practicum approved. Students should follow their Department’s guidelines to assure all practicum requirements have been meet. If the practicum requires travel abroad, please email Naya Villarreal in Research, Innovation and Global Solutions to make sure all travel requirements are in place.
- Complete the practicum. Work may begin once department requirements have been met.
- Report and reflect upon the practicum experience. At the end of the practicum, students, preceptors and faculty advisors complete an evaluation of the experience. Students also are required to report their experience in order to receive credit.
- Attend the Gillings School Practicum Day. Each fall, students, faculty, staff and community partners come together to celebrate these important collaborations.
Learn more about the Gillings School Practicum Day: Reflections from the Field event.