ABSTRACT: Virtual Practicums Within an MPH Program: A Career Development Case Study.
This article focuses on an innovative “virtual” practicum arrangement and provides insight for public health professionals seeking a meaningful practicum experience. The traditional practicum model where a student physically reports to work at the field site with a near full-time commitment has become increasingly challenging and often limiting in terms of field site choices and experiences available to a student depending on the location of a school and the student’s area of interest. This is particularly true with students who are enrolled in a distance learning program. The experience obtained from a practicum is more important than ever before as rapid changes occur in health service delivery models as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Career development through a practicum can be vitally important to a mid-career student seeking to remain relevant and in demand within a changing job market. To fulfill these needs, while still obtaining the benefits of a practicum, a virtual practicum arrangement could provide a solution. This case study provides practical tips based on the successful experience of a recent MPH graduate.