All declared majors in the undergraduate Department of Public Health are required to complete an experiential learning course called a practicum. Ideally, the practicum provides an opportunity for students to synthesize, integrate and apply practical skills, knowledge, and training learned through courses, gain professional experience in a public health work environment and work on public health practice projects that are of particular interest to them.
Students who have completed PH 2100, PH 3100, PH 3200, PH 3300, and PH 3500 are eligible to enroll in the practicum courses, which are PH 4100/PH 4150. PH 4400 may be taken simultaneously with the practicum course. Students minoring in public health are not required or eligible to complete the practicum.
NOTE: Given the course structure and the practicum placement process, PH 4100/PH 4150 has a maximum student enrollment for each semester. Meeting the listed prerequisite and eligibility requirements does not guarantee enrollment in the practicum courses for any given semester.
In order to register for PH 4100/PH 4150, you must abide by the following enrollment steps:
1. Complete the foundation courses (PH 2100, PH 3100, PH 3200, PH 3300, and PH 3500*) with a grade of C or better. Students who declared the public health major before winter 2017 are only required to complete PH 2100 and PH 3100 prior to enrolling in the practicum course. *Students who declared the public health major before Fall 2019 are only required to complete PH 2100, PH 3100, PH 3200, and PH 3300.
2. Express the intent to register by completing a brief survey. Every student planning to register for the practicum courses during the subsequent semester must indicate that in their survey response. Without completion of the survey, the practicum team will not be able to evaluate a student's eligibility for the practicum courses. This survey will be sent via email to students of junior or senior standing who have completed or are currently registered for the prerequisite courses.
3. Receive registration approval. Based on the responses to the registration intent survey, students are notified regarding their eligibility to register for PH 4100/PH 4150. Eligibility is based on the successful completion of prerequisite courses, current class standing, and anticipated graduation date. Approved students will receive an electronic override which will permit them to register for the courses. PH 4100/PH 4150 is an upper-level course restricted to students with senior standing. The course will be closed and registration by permission only.
4. Complete the practicum placement process. Students who receive permission to enroll in the practicum courses for the following semester will begin the practicum placement process prior to the start of classes. This process will include the submission of a practicum intake survey, review and revision of a current résumé, and receiving a preliminary practicum site placement. Students are required to confirm their practicum placement by scheduling an informational interview with the practicum site and establishing a start date.
All students enrolled in PH 4100/PH 4150 will be required to complete 90 hours of practicum work. Students that have declared public health honors will be required to complete additional assignments in PH 4150. These hours must be unpaid in order to count towards the practicum requirement. PH 4150 hours should be completed within the timeframe of the semester, 15 weeks for the fall and winter semester, and 13 weeks for the spring/summer semester.
Working towards completing practicum hours is a large commitment for students, as many are also balancing paid work, other college courses, family and social activities. However, it is important to remember that the PH 4150 practicum experience is a core course for public health majors and it must be given time like other college courses. Students must be ready to dedicate 90 hours over the course of the semester to this class; completing less than the required hours will affect your final PH 4150 grade.
Frequently asked questions
What is a practicum?
The practicum provides an opportunity for students to apply what is learned in the classroom and their acquired skills into a real-world setting. Students work hands-on towards addressing the needs of the community. During this experience, students are provided with a unique learning opportunity to engage with and be evaluated by professional public health practitioners.
Who places a student at a practicum site?
The practicum team, comprised of the practicum director and practicum and community engagement coordinator, is responsible for placing each student at an approved practicum site to do work under the supervision of an approved site preceptor. The practicum team considers each student's résumé and responses to the practicum intake survey when making placements. Students do not select where they will complete their practicum work.
When will the registration process for PH 4100/PH 4150 begin?
- Registration process for spring/summer semester begins in January
- Registration process for fall semester begins in May
- Registration process for winter semester begins in October
Current junior or senior standing who have completed or currently registered for the prerequisite courses will receive guidance via email regarding the registration process and appropriate steps to follow.
PH 4100 vs. PH 4150: Why are there two course numbers?
The practicum is divided into two parts: The online practicum course (PH 4100) and the out-of-class practicum experience (PH 4150). The online PH 4100 practicum course is similar to other classes you have taken at Wayne State and is graded according to the syllabus provided at the beginning of the semester. The out-of-class PH 4150 practicum experience is a pass/fail course that is completed outside of the classroom, or "in the field."
Grades for the practicum experience are based on:
1. Completion of required hours.
2. Evaluation of your work within the practicum experience by your site preceptor (supervisor).
PH 4100 and PH 4150 are co-requisites – they must be taken in the same semester.
What will students be doing during their PH 4150 practicum hours?
As part of the practicum experience, students are required to help a site with a project (defined by the site, depending on their needs). Projects may include one or more of the following:
- Data collection and analysis
- Program planning or development
- Program implementation or ongoing program support
- Health communications or education campaigns, or other health outreach of some sort
- Other work that would benefit the site
Students will work with the site preceptor to define the project at the beginning of the placement so that both the student and the site preceptor are clear about what the outcomes of the practicum hours should be.
Where can my practicum work take place?
Public health encompasses many fields of study, including infectious and chronic disease, nutrition, environmental hazards, public policy, global health issues and more. Because of its broad reach, there are a variety of ways and places for students to be actively engaged in addressing critical societal issues. Some examples of where students can complete practicum work include:
- Government agencies
- Academic institutions
- Healthcare facilities
- Non-profit or for-profit organizations
- Research institutes
The assigned site will determine whether work will be completed on-site, remotely, or in a hybrid format.
How does the practicum team determine if a student is eligible to register for PH 4100/PH 4150?
After a student completes the registration intent survey, the practicum team reviews their response to determine if they are eligible for the practicum courses. The following is considered:
- Completion of prerequisite courses
- Current class standing
- Anticipated graduation date
PH 4100/PH 4150 is an upper-level course restricted to students with senior standing. The course will be closed and registration by permission only. Ideally, students will be eligible for the practicum courses the semester prior to their anticipated graduation date.
How may I propose a practicum site and preceptor?
You may propose a practicum site and preceptor by emailing the following information to BPSHpracticum@wayne.edu:
- Name of site
- Address of site
- Description of proposed work
- Name of preceptor
- Preceptor's email address
- Preceptor's phone number
The deadline for proposing a practicum site and preceptor for each semester:
- March 13 for enrollment during the spring/summer semester
- June 5 for enrollment during the fall semester
- October 31 for enrollment during the winter semester
I need assistance developing or editing my résumé before sending it to the practicum team, what should I do?
If you need assistance developing your résumé, the following link provides resources and tips: Résumé 101 Tips and Advice. If you would like your résumé reviewed before submission, you can meet with the WSU Career Services team.
Career Services is located at 1001 Faculty/Administration Building (FAB). Career Services provides extensive career-related resources to students and alumni from all academic disciplines. Please call Career Services at 313-577-3390 to schedule a virtual or in-person appointment for a résumé review.
Whom should I contact if I have questions or concerns about the practicum?
Monique Green Jones, MPH