Practicum in Public Health

What is a public health practicum?

The practicum is an optional 15-credit course taken in a student’s final year of study. It can be taken in the Fall, Spring or Summer semesters and consists of a 13-week full-time placement in a public health setting and focus area of interest.

In this course, students will engage in public health practice under the direction of a preceptor (a degree prepared professional [any discipline] in a practice setting) and work to meet course objectives with the support of a faculty advisor. This course will provide students the opportunity to work with organizations and community groups to address public health issues. Public health concepts will be explored through a scholarly project that provides a contribution to the work of the agency. Students will focus on the development of interdisciplinary core competencies for public health.

Why do a practicum?

A practicum placement provides students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field of public health and to link concepts and theory to real-world experiences. Students will be able to contribute to an agency’s work and develop personal confidence and skills as a public health practitioner. Choosing to do a practicum can help answer the questions, “What kinds of jobs are there?” and “What are my areas of interest and strength in the field of Public Health?”

To date, public health graduates (BHSc [public health]) who completed a practicum have reported higher rates of employment in comparison to those who chose to complete a course-based degree. A practicum placement provides a wonderful opportunity for public health students to develop professional networks, to gain practical experience and marketable skills.

Past Practicum Placements

Possible practicum placements include:

  • Health Promotion Facilitation role

  • Health Promotion Coordinator (Comprehensive School Health) role

  • Community Development Facilitator

  • Wellness Coordinator role

  • Evaluation Assistant

  • Health Information Analysis Assistant (Epidemiology/Health Surveillance) role

  • Health Education/Chronic Disease Prevention roles

  • Inclusion Assistant/Community Outreeach roles

  • Health policy analyst role

  • Health Protection Assistant/Communicable Disease Assistant role

  • Food Safety Assistant/Food Inspector roles

  • Research Assistant/Quality Assuurance Assistant roles

Please contact the Internship Specialist for an overview of practicum placements.

Interested in Practicum?

There is a hard deadline of 6 months prior to intended placement for students to express interest and start the placement process.  In order to prepare for your practicum, please review Appendix II in the Practicum Student Handbook for a list of all the documentation requirements. There are many prerequisite courses required for placement.  Please be sure to review course PUBH 4550 in the Academic Calendar for the most up to date list on required pre-requisites and connect with your academic advisor to ensure you are on track and eligible when you intend to do your placement. We recommend students do practicum as their last semester of their degree.  Post Diploma or Degree students are advised to check with their academic advisors early as the practicum course would be in addition to their program requirements.

Important Information - Practicum Handbook

For more information please check out the Practicum Student Handbook where you can find detailed information about the practicum course. 

Police Record Check

If you require a police record check prior to your practicum and would like a reduced rate, complete this form and take it to M3080 for a signature.

Student Experiences

When did you attend the U of L?

2016-2020

What degree(s) did you complete?

Bachelor of Health Science, Major in Public Health

Why did you choose to do a practicum?

I choose to complete a practicum because I wanted to apply what I had learned throughout my education, in the workplace. I also felt that by completing a practicum, I would be able to build professional relationships that could help me obtain employment in the field of public health.

Where was your practicum placement?

My practicum placement was at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta South Region in Lethbridge.

What was your scholarly project?

I completed two major projects for CMHA. For the first half of the practicum experience I took a leadership role in creating a Pet Supplies Swap and Buy Fundraiser, which was a partnership project between CMHA and the Lethbridge Humane Society. The event was held to help support those in the community struggling to meet the costs of being a pet owner, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any additional donated funds collected from the event were donated to the Lethbridge Humane Society to further support their services in the community. At the event I was responsible for creating a health promotion display board that promoted the mental health benefits and risks of pet ownership.

The second major project I completed for CMHA was a presentation on the new Integrated Coordinated Access Program (ICA). The presentation compared the previous Community Links Program with the new ICA program, and displayed how the new program removes many barriers to citizens accessing community services in Lethbridge. My presentation was shared with employees at CMHA and other community service organizations, as well as the citizens of Lethbridge.

What are you currently doing now for employment?

I am currently a Service Coordinator for the Alberta Brain Injury Network at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Central Alberta Region. It is my role to connect adults who have acquired a brain injury and their families, to supports in their community that encourage independent living and reaching the client’s personal goals. I am also responsible for working with a team to promote community awareness of traumatic brain injuries and build community partnerships that promote more inclusive communities.

Did you feel that your practicum experience helped you with your current employment?

I can confidently say that I would have not been awarded the job position I am in now, without my practicum experience! When I interviewed for the Service Coordinator position with CMHA Central Region I brought my scholarly project that I completed during my practicum with CMHA South Region. The Executive Director was VERY impressed with my work and was able to see a visual of how I was able to apply my public health skills to the mental health field. Not only did my scholarly project have a great impact, my preceptor from CMHA South Region gave me an AMAZING reference that secured me the role. I highly recommend anyone who completes the public health program at the U of L to complete a practicum placement. It was the highlight of my education journey!

When did you attend the U of L?
Class of 2016

What degree(s) did you complete?
Bachelor of Health Sciences - Public Health

Why did you choose to do a practicum?
I felt that it would be a great way to end my undergraduate program. Below is a list of the reasons I chose to do a practicum:
• I wanted work experience in my field of study
• Capacity build
• Mentorship
• Network
• Apply my knowledge in public health to practice
• Work with an Aboriginal population
 
Where was your practicum placement?
Siksika Health Services. Through my practicum experience I was able to capacity build, network with health professionals and relevant stakeholders, and work collaboratively with Siksika Health Services executive team, team leaders and staff members.

What was your scholarly project?
Initially I was working on a Community Health Needs Assessment, however, the needs assessment was not completed until after the project deadline. In lieu, I created a Public Health workshop for Siksika Health Service staff and Siksika community members.

What are you currently doing now for employment?
I am currently working as a research assistant/writer for an eHealth project that aims to help increase capacity for eHealth for Alberta First Nations.

Did you feel that your practicum experience helped you with your current employment?
Yes, I was able to meet many great mentors within my practicum placement which in the end helped me secure employment out of practicum. The practicum was a good way of introducing me into the Public Health field. I was able to network with the team leads of the organization and went onto becoming employed out of graduation.

When did you attend the U of L?
2010-2014

What degree(s) did you complete?
Bachelor of Health Sciences, Major in Public Health

Why did you choose to do a practicum?
I had heard great things about the practicum option from friends of mine and from the program coordinator. I had heard that many students were successful in getting a job after doing the practicum option.

Where was your practicum placement?
In Lethbridge at the Health Unit (Train station) in infection control with the Medical Officer of Health with Alberta Health Services. I was involved in a Foot Care Provider project where I gathering information about foot care providers practicing in AHS contracted assisted living facilities. I gathered information about infection control practices, educational background and services provided. Through the practicum I was also able to job shadow in many different areas including acute and continuing care infection prevention and control, public health, communicable disease control, health inspections, public health nursing, health promotion, nutrition, environmental services, laundry, and construction.

What was your scholarly project?
I was involved in a Foot Care Provider project where I gathering information about foot care providers practicing in AHS contracted assisted living facilities. I gathered information about infection control practices, educational background and services provided. I did a literature review and summarized my findings into a final report.

What are you currently doing now for employment?
I am an Infection Control Professional at Alberta Health Services in Lethbridge at the Chinook Regional Hospital.

Did you feel that your practicum experience helped you with your current employment?
Yes, very much, I was able to get a job in IPC for the summer after I completed my degree and after that summer position was done I got another temporary position that lead to the permanent position I am in now. I met all of the people I work with and the director who hired me through my practicum.

Did you feel that the practicum was a valuable in procuring employment?
Yes it was, my practicum gave me the experience and contacts that greatly contributed in getting the position I have.

I found the practicum portion of the Public Health program to be the best and more helpful part. I got in contact with the right people and got a very broad range of experience through my practicum. I would strongly recommend the practicum route to anyone currently in the Public Health program.