Fieldwork is among the most crucial components of the Public Health curriculum. Fieldwork placements are designed to be practical experiences that provide students with an opportunity to apply the concepts, techniques, and theories learned in the classroom to real life experiences working in the field. The Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences works with more than 175 community partners in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.
Fieldwork sites include community based organizations, governmental agencies, hospitals, other academic institutions, rehabilitation facilities, community health centers and corporate worksites. There are also fieldwork opportunities in international and global health.
Global fieldwork experiences are encouraged. There are international opportunities for both undergraduate and MPH students both through Temple University and other academic programs. In the past, students have completed public health internships in Costa Rica, Ghana, Jamaica, India, Peru, Kenya, Botswana, China, and Dominican Republic. Students can find more information from the Office of Study Abroad and Overseas Campuses http://www.temple.edu/studyabroad/.
Students who are interested in international fieldwork experience must discuss with and receive approval from the Fieldwork Coordinator before fieldwork is to begin. Students also should discuss plans to study abroad with the undergraduate advisor.
The Public Health internship program is designed to occur during a student’s last two semesters. During the first placement, the intern undertaking a fieldwork experience works for an agency for 200 hours. For their last placement, the intern works for 400 hours. All placements last for 14 weeks. The actual field placement site is determined according to both the intern’s interest and an agency’s willingness to accept responsibility for supervising a student. These experiences are intended to give the intern an opportunity to observe, learn, and participate in the various activities of health agencies. In order to complete Internship I and II, students need to complete Professional Seminar and other pre-requisite coursework.
Possible duties and responsibilities of undergraduate Public Health interns include: presenting group/individual sessions on various health topics; planning, implementing and/or evaluating health education programs; conducting research on various topics; identifying community resources and developing appropriate resource files; producing appropriate educational materials with respect to literacy and cultural sensitivity; and participating in regular staff meetings as well as agency/community long range planning sessions.
Fieldwork is a requirement of the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the accrediting body of all U.S. schools and programs of public health, for completion of the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. The MPH culminating experience “requires a student to synthesize and integrate the knowledge acquired in coursework and other learning experiences and to apply theory and principles in a situation that approximates some aspect of professional practice”. Fieldwork I and II are taken consecutively during the last two semesters of the MPH program and are completed at the same fieldwork site.
Temple’s MPH fieldwork model is comprised of four-objectives that all MPH fieldwork students are required to complete during their capstone experience. This provides students with a comprehensive experience which allows them to develop both research and evaluation skills as well as gain experience in the development and delivery of public health initiatives in a community setting. Under this framework, it is entirely feasible for students to complete different objectives in the context of different projects (multi-project fieldwork experience) or in the context of one-single project (single-project experience).
The objectives and related skills to be developed in this two-semester experience are that students will use data and empirical evidence to identify a public health problem; students will use social science and public health models to develop and then implement a feasible solution to a public health problem; students will use quantitative and/or qualitative data and methods to evaluate a public health program; and that students will interpret and disseminate program findings to relevant community stakeholders.
Examples of recent fieldwork experiences include:
- Returning to the Community: Reentry Barriers Among Individuals with Serious Mental Health Issues
- Implementing Trauma-informed, Multiple Behavior Health Curriculum with Women Living in a Domestic Violence Residential Program
- Overcoming Barriers in Rural Pennsylvania: Implementing Diabetes Support
- Groups to Improve Healthcare, Decrease Risk, and Empower Patients
- Incarcerated Women and Cardiovascular Health: Examining the Association Between Physical Activity and Nicotine Dependence