Below are a few frequently asked questions about the Practice-based Experience.  If you do not see your particular question please feel free to email it to mph-practice@hsc.wvu.edu.

What is the Practice-based Experience?

A practice-based experience is a field placement with an agency or an organization whose mission/services are public health related. In a practice-based experience, students work with an approved preceptor. Placements should allow a student to apply their academic knowledge, acquire or expand their skills related to their discipline, and be evaluated relative to selected competencies. It is also an opportunity to explore public health careers, clarify your professional goals, and develop contacts for employment (networking).

What’s the difference between a Practice-based Experience and an internship?

It’s a matter of terminology.  An internship is typically more hours in the field than our minimum requirement of 180 hours.

How long does the Practice-based Experience last?

All MPH students are required to complete a minimum of 180 hours of practice-based field work with an approved agency or organization.  Most Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences students complete a total of 360 hours to fulfill their MPH program requirements.

In what semester should I complete the Practice-based Experience course?

Generally, students should be halfway through your coursework before beginning a field placement. For full time students, the earliest would be the summer after your first year. Students should apply to at least one site the semester prior to when he or she plans to begin their practice-based experience.  (See table with dates)

When is the best time to begin looking for sites?

It is never too early to begin looking for sites.  The earlier a student seeks potential sites, the more likely the best opportunities are available. To place at a competitive site, you must meet deadlines and be proactive.

What are my options for placements for the Practice-based Experience?

In order to determine a site that is a good fit, you should be able to state your professional goals, determine what populations you would want to work with, identify personal constraints, and be willing to try something new if necessary.

Some general options for placements are: state or local government agencies, healthcare facilities, WVU Extension, non-profit organizations, coalitions, or private companies. The Director of the Practice-based Learning can make suggestions for the student, but only based on information the student has provided to the Director.

Where should I apply?

The School offers a secure list of sites in SOLE.  Application instructions including submitting a cover letter of interest and resume to mph-practice@hsc.wvu.edu. Some sites have specific requirements in addition.

What are the requirements for the Practice-based Experience?

All students completing the practice-based experience must complete a minimum of 180 hours of practice-based fieldwork at an approved agency or organization. Students must select 3-5 competencies (core and discipline-specific) to attain during placement.  A work plan agreement is developed by the student, reviewed by the site preceptor, and the Director of Practice-based Learning.  It describes the specifics of the placement, timelines, and final products.  The original signed agreement must be on file with the Director of Practice Based Learning before the student can register for PUBH 622.

During their practice-based placements, students complete a monthly field report, assigned projects from the Workplan Agreement, and a final field report. Lastly, they must complete final evaluations.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions regarding the Practice-based Experience?

Bobbi Sykes, BSMT (ASCP), MS
Director of Practice-based Learning
West Virginia University School of Public Health
P.O. Box 9190
Morgantown, WV 26506