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The Practicum

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Students complete practicums in a wide variety of settings such as the CDC (students here pictured with CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden).

A public health practicum is the opportunity to apply your classroom experience in a work setting. It is required for all students in professional master’s programs (MPH, MSPH, MPH&TM), including those with prior work experience. The practicum may be done in a variety of settings outside of the university, and it may align with future career goals.

The practicum is:

  • Carefully planned, approved, and supervised practical experience (200-300 hours)
  • Takes place in last year of MPH, MSPH or MPH&TM study
  • Has well-defined objectives that align with program competencies
  • Supervised by a preceptor with public health practice experience
  • Evaluated by the advisor and preceptor

Visit Inside SPHTM, which is the school's intranet, to download the Practicum Handbook and access Terra Dotta. You must use your single sign-on login credentials.

Completing the Practicum
  1. Plan your practicum with your advisor: Begin actively planning at least six months ahead of the time you plan to start work. 
     
  2. Select a practicum site: Check with Career Services for practicum sites. Work with your advisor.
     
  3. Develop your practicum: Work with your advisor to develop specific objectives for your practicum; the objectives should align with two or more competencies. Send your resume to your preceptor.
     
  4. Get your practicum approved: Visit Terra Dotta (link available at Inside SPHTM), and enter your information into “getting started" to request advisor and preceptor approvals. 
     
  5. Register for SPHL 9980 in the semester you will complete your practicum.
     
  6. Start your practicum: Keep a journal or log of dates and activities.
Upon Completion of the Practicum
  1. Make sure you have your Practicum Completion Form.
     
  2. Get your preceptor’s evaluation immediately upon finishing your work experience.  Request your preceptor's evaluation through Terra Dotta.  
     
  3. Submit your abstract and practicum report and meet with your advisor.  Discuss and assess your practicum experiences. Submit your paper at least three weeks prior to first day of class in the semester you intend to graduate. 
     
  4. Get your advisors evaluation and final approval. Request your advisor’s evaluation and assessment through Terra Dotta.
     
  5. Upload your work into Terra Dotta. Upload your abstract, practicum report, other examples of work, log, and an updated resume into Terra Dotta.
What is Terra Dotta?

Terra Dotta is a student-centric system that tracks progress through the practicum, minimizes external forms, automates approvals, and compiles documents and student work products.

Access Terra Dotta using your Tulane e-mail username and password.  See detailed directions in Appendix II of the practicum handbook. Both Terra Dotta and the Practicum Handbook can be accessed at Inside SPHTM.

Student testimonial about importance of practicum in their educational experience:

My practicum experience gave me invaluable, hands-on public health experience that helped to shape my career. I had an interest in violence prevention and knew that I wanted to work at the local level, so I reached out to the New Orleans Health Department to arrange a practicum. I wound up shaping the department’s emerging program to address violence as a public health issue, wrote grant proposals, and learned first-hand from brilliant public health leaders. My practicum experience helped me to develop content expertise and on-the-job skills needed by the local health department. At the end of the summer, I was hired on for a full-time position with the New Orleans Health Department, where I have worked for 4+ years. This isn’t a typical practicum experience – not all internships turn into jobs – but my experience shows how the practicum can serve as on-ramp for future career opportunities in public health.

Chris Gunther (MPH EPID 2013)