MPH Field Experience

Oregon Master in Public Health Program

Epidemiology Track and the Biostatistics Track

PHPM 504/BSTA 507 Field Experience/Practicum


Detailed Field Experience guidelines are found in the Field Experience Handbook, and all forms are found on the Forms page of this website. Guidelines posted below are also available in PDF format here. Field Experience documents can be downloaded here.

Field Experience Coordinator Contact Information: 
Jamie L. Jones, MPH (jonejami@ohsu.edu)
Phone: 503-494-7548
To schedule a field experience appointment, please use the following link.


The Field Experience/Practicum is required for all MPH students in both the Epidemiology and the Biostatistics Tracks and provides the opportunity for students to gain valuable knowledge and experience that is often not available through coursework. The practicum must be a minimum of 200 hours, often occurs outside of the OHSU medical center (e.g., in state- or county-level health departments, health services organizations, and community-based organizations), or within OHSU as part of an applied research program. Students are encouraged to think creatively about the type of placement that will most benefit them; for most, the placement is similar to their eventual career. The specific location of the placement is to be agreed upon between each student and the PHPM Field Experience Coordinator.

The Field Experience/Practicum is designed to be an integrative experience with relevance to the world of professional practice, and approved placements provide students the opportunity to synthesize and apply the knowledge, competencies, and skills developed in their classroom studies. Therefore, the field experience placement should begin after the student has completed the equivalent of one full-time year of coursework in the program, and usually will begin during the summer term. The final report on the field experience consists of a written report that addresses each of the learning objectives specified in the proposal, a reflective paper, and completion of an oral presentation.

The Field Experience/Practicum is a requirement of the MPH degree and will not be waived, even if the student has experience in public health practice.  Students employed in public health organizations may work with their Faculty Advisor to structure an appropriate project in their setting of employment. However, the practicum activity must be distinct from routine work responsibilities, and the time spent in practicum activity separately accounted.

The range of activities in projects is fairly broad and includes: working on a research project to test a hypothesis; data analysis in support of a position/advocacy statement; data analysis to evaluate a public policy, program or project; and data analysis as part of a clinical or community study. To be approvable, projects must include data analysis.

A list of current and past field experience/practicum placements is maintained on the websites of the Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine (http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/schools/school-of-medicine/departments/clinical-departments/public-health/education-programs/student-resources/internship-planning.cfm) and the Oregon MPH Program (http://oregonmph.org/content/field-experienceinternship).

Objectives of the Field Experience/Practicum

1. To provide students with the opportunity to utilize knowledge and practice new skills learned in their MPH courses;

2. To contribute to students' professional education through assignments that are useful to the host organization and that refine the student's professional skills; and

3. To help students identify their professional strengths and weaknesses and gaps in knowledge for further self-improvement.

The Field Experience/Practicum sites should:

· Provide 200 hours of public health-oriented work, generally 10 hours/week for 20 weeks

· Enable students to apply specific epidemiologic and biostatistics research skills learned in their track.

· Address the educational/experiential needs of the student (through work and mentoring).

· Provide logistic support to the student (e.g., program information, data, desk, telephone, etc.)

· Have experienced public health professionals to provide the training at the placement sites.

Process Guidelines for Students

Before beginning the practicum:

1. Students should begin by constructing a rough draft of their PHPM 504/BSTA 507 Learning Contract.  With the assistance of the Field Experience Coordinator and your Faculty Advisor:

a. Review the list of required (first-year equivalent) coursework and complete the checklist.

b. Describe 2-3 major goals you have for the practicum experience, based on your strengths, past experience, experience needed, and professional goals.

c. Describe the general attributes of your proposed placement site, preceptor and her/his credentials.

d. Get approval for the concept from your Faculty Advisor and the Field Experience Coordinator.

2. Develop the Learning Contract with your Faculty Advisor and your site Preceptor.

a. Address each of the Track's Learning Competencies (see respective MPH Handbooks of the Epidemiology Track and the Biostatistics Track).

b. Submit the Learning Contract with Matrix, signed by you and your Preceptor for review and approval by the PHPM Field Experience Coordinator.

After your Learning Contract is approved:

1. Register for PHPM 504/BSTA 507 Field Experience/Practicum.

2. Complete each the activities planned in the Learning Contract.

a. Submit your log of hours and activities to the PHPM Field Experience Coordinator and the mid-point and end of each term in which you are registered for credits.

b. Revision of your learning objectives may become necessary.  When the need is discovered, submit a written request for revision with justification from you and your site Preceptor to the Field Experience Coordinator. Notification of the adjustment at the conclusion of the Field Experience will not be accepted. 

3. Write your final Summary Report package, including Reflective Paper, and have it reviewed and signed by your Preceptor and Faculty Advisor.

4. Submit final Summary Report, Reflective Paper, and work products to the Field Experience Coordinator.

5. Make an oral presentation on your field experience at the Student Research Conference.

Letter grades will be determined by each student's Faculty Advisor and the PHPM Field Experience Coordinator. Grade evaluation will be based on the student's mid-term and end-of-term reports, the final Summary Report and certification of completed work by the Preceptor, the Reflective Paper, and the student's oral presentation. Students will not receive a final grade for the Field Experience (regardless of when they are registered for it) until after the oral presentation; in the meantime they will receive an "In Progress" as a placeholder on their transcripts.


Supervision of a student during the field experience is a joint responsibility of the Preceptor at the host organization and the student's Faculty Advisor at OHSU. All parties are encouraged to communicate openly with one another, provide clear expectations, and ask and answer questions in order to increase the learning opportunities and task performance of students. Site Preceptors and Faculty Advisors are expected to be in contact a minimum of twice during the field experience - mid-placement and at the conclusion - to evaluate the student's progress. Faculty Advisors will include this feedback in their final assessment of student's grade.


Before and During Field experience

1. Determine the academic term(s) in which you want to register for PHPM 504/BSTA 507. A total of 6 credits is required for the MPH degree. Completing the field practicum across multiple terms is acceptable, and will be decided with the advice of your Preceptor and your Faculty Advisor on a case-by-case basis.

2. Note that you will not receive a final grade until after the oral presentation, and in the intervening time will receive an incomplete or 'I'.

3. Students must complete the equivalent of one full-time year of study before beginning their field experience. At minimum, students must complete the entire series of required courses in Epidemiology (PHPM 512, 513, 514, and 536) and Biostatistics  (BSTA 511, 512, AND 513 – previously cross-listed at PHPM 525, 526, 527). Students will complete a checklist that indicates their completion of coursework to share with their Faculty Advisor when discussing practicum options.

4. Students are expected to assume lead responsibility for identifying suitable field experience sites and Preceptors. In communicating with potential host organizations, you should communicate clearly about what stage of the process you are in - still exploring multiple possibilities, or looking for a specific placement with that particular organization. You should be careful not to leave an organization with the impression that they are making a commitment to that placement until you are in fact ready to do so and fill out the Student Learning Contract accordingly.

5. Attend at least one Department orientation to discuss identifying and approaching potential practicum placements. (All MPH students are required to attend an orientation in their first year.)

6. You are expected to carefully assess your academic preparation, experience, and professional development to identify areas to address in the field experience.

7. Complete the Student Learning Contract with input from your Faculty Advisor and site Preceptor. The proposal must include a description of the organization, credentials of the Preceptor, and the goals of specific field experience placement.  All parties should retain a copy of the Student Learning Contract, and the original form with all signatures must be filed with the Field Experience Coordinator.

IMPORTANT:  When they occur, changes of the Preceptor at the site or the Preceptor's contact information must be communicated by the student to the Field Experience Coordinator without delay. The Learning Contract is the formal record of the PHPM 504/BSTA 507 Field Experience, and provides essential information for contacting the Preceptor and organization.

8. Students are expected to be fully engaged in the field experience, performing activities necessary to complete work as defined in the Learning Contract and subsequent agreements with the site Preceptor. You are expected to follow the policies, procedures, and customs of the host organization, acting in a professional and respectful manner.

9. In addition to writing up technical aspects of their Field Experience, all MPH students must submit a Reflective Paper as a requirement for graduation. This paper will not be waived and is intended to build skills in self-reflection needed for your continued professional development. The Reflective Paper is submitted with the final Summary Report and work products, upon completion of the field experience.

10. Students are expected to maintain regular communication with their site Preceptor and Faculty Advisor, including seeking appropriate feedback. The frequency of contact will vary with the setting of the field experience and will be stipulated in the Learning Contract.

11. Please contact the Field Experience Coordinator (Jamie L. Jones, email jonejami@ohsu.edu, telephone 503-494-7548) with questions or concerns not addressed on this website.

After the placement

1. Prepare your written report.

2. Prepare your reflective paper.

  1. Prepare your oral presentation. Prepare a written abstract of your practicum activities, to be used in the program guide for the Student Research Conference. Students should submit the abstract to their Faculty Advisor for discussion and revision and then submit electronically to the Field Experience Coordinator. Students will be notified via email of exact due dates based on the scheduled Student Research Conference dates. Refer to the Oral Presentation Guidelines (http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/schools/school-of-medicine/departments/clinical-departments/public-health/education-programs/student-resources/internship-planning.cfm) for abstract details.

4. Prepare a PowerPoint slide presentation based on your practicum experience. All presentations must be reviewed by, and discussed with, Faculty Advisors at least one week before presentation. This is an opportunity for students to receive helpful feedback on preparing high quality professional work. Students should ensure site Preceptor the inclusion of all data in the oral presentation. The overall content of the presentation should be approved by Site Preceptors - students need to be aware that some data may not be approved for presentation.

5. Complete your evaluation of organization and Preceptor, and submit these documents to the Field Experience Coordinator.


Before and during the placement

1. Assist the student in reviewing academic and professional goals, and outline the educational and experiential objectives of the Field Experience, taking into consideration student's previous experience in epidemiology, biostatistics, and public health.

2. Assist the student in identifying suitable field experience sites and preceptors. If a student chooses a community-based field experience, it is the Faculty Advisor's responsibility to supplement this experience in order for the student to demonstrate their ability to apply basic epidemiology principles to this experience. Examples of these activities may, but are not limited to, health impact assessments, program evaluation, surveillance, community intervention and clinical trials and will be determined at the discretion of the Faculty Advisor. All organizational placements must include some data analysis activity, preferably involving multivariate analysis.

3. Review and approve the prospective site and preceptor and sign the student's Learning Contract. It is recommended that the Faculty Advisor keep a copy with the student's program's contact information for future use. Students will submit the signed original to the Field Experience Coordinator.

4. Promptly respond to requests from the Preceptor for information about the goals of the Field Experience and respond to requests from either the Preceptor or student for assistance and facilitating a high quality learning experience.

5. The Faculty Advisor will discuss the student's progress with the Site Preceptor at least twice during the field experience - mid-point and at the conclusion - via email, telephone, or site visit.  These discussions will inform the Faculty Advisor's decision on the student's grade. Student grades are due after they have completed the oral presentation.  Students who are registered for the field experience in a term other than the fall should anticipate a grade of 'In Progress' until after the oral presentation and all required paperwork is submitted.

6. Please contact the Field Experience Coordinator (Jamie L. Jones, email jonejami@ohsu.edu) with questions or concerns not addressed on this website.

After the placement

1. Review the student's final Summary Report package, including work products and their Reflective Paper.

2. Review the Site Preceptor's evaluation and discuss the student's attainment of learning objectives and their performance.

3. Submit student grades by the end-of-term deadline, typically the Friday 7 days after the last day of the term. The internship will be letter graded (A, B, C, D, and F). For PHPM 504/BSTA 507 credits in progress, faculty should plan on giving an 'In Progress' at the time grades are due based on their communications with students and their Site Preceptors and evidence of student progress. Grades will be changed after the final summary report, reflection paper, and oral presentation requirements are completed.

4. Assist the student in preparation of their oral presentation.

5. Attend the Student Research Conference.



Before and during the placement

1. Review the Learning Contract with the student and sign.  Preceptors should maintain a copy for their own records, including the contact information for the Faculty Advisor and OHSU program office for future use.

2. Provide the student with a formal orientation to the organization.  Ideally, orientation would include an introduction to the mission of the organization/project and to staff, a review of expectations, and development of a reporting/meeting schedule to review progress and answer questions.

3. Provide direct supervision of the student, establishing an ongoing reporting relationship with the student during the internship, and maintaining availability to provide feedback and resolve issues that may arise.

4. Provide resources necessary to a successful internship, including workspace, supplies, and the opportunity to observe major organization functions.

5. Discuss the student's progress with the student's Faculty Advisor at least twice during the internship - mid-point and at the conclusion - via email, telephone, or site visit. These discussions will inform the Faculty Advisor's decisions about the student's grade.

6. Please contact the Field Experience Coordinator (Jamie L. Jones, email jonejami@ohsu.edu, telephone 503-494-7548) with questions or concerns not addressed on this website.

After the placement

Provide a written evaluation of the student's performance at the end of the internship using the Preceptor Evaluation Form. This form may be emailed or sent by post to the Field Experience Coordinator (Jamie L. Jones, email jonejami@ohsu.edu). Please submit evaluations no later than 2 weeks after the end of the placement.