OVERVIEW

All students working towards an MPH degree in the SOPH are required to complete a three (3) credit hour internship experience (PUH 697/697Q); the internship cannot be waived. The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), our accrediting body, requires that the applied practice experience (i.e. internship) provides an opportunity for each public health student to demonstrate attainment of at least five competencies and is relevant to the student’s areas of specialization.  The internship is a practice-based (rather than administrative or research) experience; therefore, the student experience is required to include opportunities to engage with other professionals outside the academic setting and to participate in activities that will advance their public health career potential. Each internship placement is different, but all depend upon the ability of the student to work with minimal supervision. Activities of the internship should be mutually beneficial to both the site and the student. The internship should be based on the Evidence-Based Public Health model. Evidence-Based Public Health provides the critical link between public health education, research, and practice. This model ensures that public health practitioners employ evidence-based best practices to assess the needs of communities, determine key health issues, propose appropriate programs and policies, and rigorously evaluate and effectively manage public health efforts.

The internship experience must be appropriately planned, supervised, and evaluated.  Each student undertaking an internship must acquire permission from the student’s SOPH internship advisor and the on-site preceptor/supervisor.  Students must be registered for PUH 697/697Q during the time the internship is being completed.  A minimum of 180 contact hours is required for the MPH internships, however, a student’s preceptor can require that a student complete additional hours. 

MPH students should have completed all public health core courses before registering for an internship. Usually, this means that students must wait until their third semester to complete the internship. Students should check with their department’s program coordinator to be sure about when they are eligible to register for the internship.

Students who entered the MPH Program Fall 2020 or after must complete the below before completing the MPH Internship:

  • Background check before registering for their internship (read through the instructions here).
  • Professional Passport Interprofessional (IP) Practice Modules (Modules 1 through 4) and IP Activities

INTERNSHIP REQUIREMENTS

  • The focus of the internship MUST be public health practice/population health-focused (i.e. internships which are SOLELY academic-based research, data entry, administrative, or clinical work are NOT appropriate). If an internship occurs in an academic setting, there must be involvement of an external community partner. 
  • The internship must allow the student to demonstrate the attainment of five (5) MPH Foundational Competencies. Students can align their internship to additional Departmental Competencies.
  • The SOPH assesses competency attainment through the submission of work products created by the student during the internship, which are mutually beneficial to both the internship site and student. If the internship takes place in an academic or university-affiliated setting, the final products developed as part of the internship should benefit a community partner or target population. 
  • A student must submit a minimum of two (2) products. However, all five (5) competencies must be represented in the products submitted. Thus, the requirement of two products is a floor rather than a ceiling as it may take more than products for students to demonstrate the use of knowledge and skills in each of the competencies selected.
  • Students must complete a minimum of 180 contact hours with their internship site, completed within a single academic semester.
  • An internship proposal form must be approved by the student’s internship advisor and preceptor before the student can register and begin their internship. All forms, evaluations, and deliverables are housed in APEx. The Internship Advisor will review all proposals and reserves the right to request the student change their products or select a different internship organization if the internship activities and/or products do not meet the requirements of the MPH Internship Program at the UAB School of Public Health. Credit cannot be applied retroactively to work you have done prior to registering for the internship.

PLANNING THE INTERNSHIP

Planning for the internship should take place at least 4-6 months prior to the semester in which the student intends to complete the internship. As students begin to plan their internship, they should meet with their: 
1) departmental program coordinator to determine optimal times for completing their internships; 
2) internship advisor to discuss career interest and appropriate projects; and 
3) internship coordinator to discuss the steps of the internship process and requirements. 

APPROPRIATE INTERNSHIP SITES

Internship sites may include governmental, non-governmental, non-profit, industrial and for-profit settings or appropriate university-affiliated settings. To be appropriate for an internship, university-affiliated settings must be primarily focused on community engagement, typically with external partners. University health promotion or wellness centers may be appropriate.

WHEN AND WHERE TO LOOK FOR AN INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY 

Ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility to secure an internship. Students should start looking and applying for internships at least 2-3 months prior to the semester in which they intend to complete their internship. 

Internship opportunities are posted in the Get a Handle Student Newsletter and Handshake, UAB’s Career Center’s job/internship search platform. Students are also encouraged to view a sampling of Past Internship Sites to see where other students have interned in the past. Students are also able to identify their own internship opportunity as long as it satisfies the criteria stated in the Internship Requirements section above.  Students should not wait until the last 2-3 weeks before the semester starts to begin thinking about what and where to complete the internship.

Considerations when identifying and selecting an internship:

  • Working Full-time while Completing the MPH Internship: If a student is working full-time while completing the MPH program, it is possible to complete the internship at their current job site as long as the internship is still focused on public health practice and it is NOT part of their normal job duties. It must be a separate project or additional activity.
  • Federal and Large Program Deadlines: Students interested in completing their internship with a federal program, such as the CDC, or with larger corporations, many organizations have deadlines 4-6 months before the internship starts (i.e deadline in the Fall for Summer internships).
  • IRB Approval: Given the nature of public health practice, it is possible that the student may be analyzing, interpreting and perhaps even contributing to the collection of data. If there is any question as to whether an internship will require IRB approval, it is the student’s responsibility to work with their preceptor to submit an application to the IRB. Please be advised that the IRB approval process might significantly extend the time needed to prepare for an internship; therefore, students should discuss the scope of the internship with their preceptor so that no IRB infractions occur.
  • Affiliation Agreements: Some internship sites may require an affiliation agreement to be in place BEFORE a student can begin an internship (typically health departments, health systems, or hospitals). IMPORTANT NOTE: These contracts can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months to process. Some contracts are never successfully negotiated. They require legal review from both the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama for the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the host agency/organization.  In addition, some sites may also require drug testing, background checks, immunizations, etc. Students are responsible for checking with the organization as soon as possible regarding these requirements and ensuring there is enough time to complete the required documents before the start of the semester.  

ELIGIBILITY

In order to register for the internship course, students must have completed all public health core coursework. Usually, this means that students must wait until their 3rd semester to complete the internship. Students should meet with their departmental program coordinator to discuss their curriculum planning schedule and appropriate time to complete the internship.

In addition, for students who entered the MPH Program Fall 2020 or after, the Professional Passport Interprofessional (IP) Practice Modules and IP Activities must be completed before you can complete the MPH Internship. Please note, the completion of IP Activities may require registration and participation in extracurricular events scheduled during the semester. Do not wait until the last minute to complete the IP Activities. See the MPH Professional Passport in Canvas for more details. All who entered the MPH Program Fall 2020 or after must also complete a background check before registering for their internship (read through the instructions here).

FOR STUDENTS TRAVELING OR COMPLETING THEIR INTERNSHIP ABROAD

Students completing an international internship or traveling abroad as part of their internship must register with Education Abroad for the UAB Faculty-Led Program: PUH 697 in Various Locations Program. When students reach the program description, click “Apply Now”. When selecting UAB faculty member responsible, students should select their internship advisor at the SOPH. 

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS (F-1 AND J-1 VISA HOLDERS)

According to university policy, international students must complete additional requirements for the International Student and Scholar Services office before beginning their internship. F-1 students should review information on Curricular Practical Training (“CPT”) and J-1 students should review information on Academic Training. The Office of Public Health Practice will complete the academic letter.   

REGISTRATION 

Prior to registration for (PUH 697: Internship), the student must complete the Internship Proposal Form in APEx. Both the preceptor and SOPH internship advisor must electronically approve this form BEFORE the departmental program coordinator can remove the hold from the student’s account. The student should register for the appropriate course under their SOPH internship advisor. 

In-person students are required to register for the in-person internship. Students in the online program are the only ones that should register for the online internship(marked with a Q). If a student is in the in-person program but takes all courses online, they will still register for the in-person internship. Additionally, if a student is in the in-person program but completes an internship out of state/country, they will need to still register for the in-person internship.

Note: Credit cannot be applied retroactively to work you have done prior to registering for the internship.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS (complete prior to registration)

The student is responsible for the completion and submission of the “UAB School of Public Health Internship Proposal Form.” This is an electronic form that is completed by the student and approved by the preceptor and internship advisor through APEx, the UAB School of Public Health’s internship tracking system.  

The Internship Proposal form provides information on the host agency, background on the internship project and student’s role in the project, and identifies anticipated final products mapped to each of the MPH competencies selected.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS (submitted prior to the completion of the internship)

The following final products are required for all MPH students upon completion of their internship:

  • Student Midpoint and Final Reflection of Internship Experience 
  • Preceptor’s Midpoint and Final Evaluation of Student Performance
  • Internship Advisor Midpoint Meeting Confirmation
  • A minimum of two (2) Final Products developed by the student during the internship which demonstrates competency attainment of 5 MPH Competencies 
  • Internship Poster and Poster Presentation
  • Submission and verification of Hour Log 
  • Any other deliverables and products as determined by site and preceptor 

All forms and required documents are submitted online through APEx. Students should view the internship timelines for the deadline regarding all required documents.  

GRADING POLICY

Students will be given a grade of Pass/No Pass by the internship advisor based on completion of all internship requirements, including the results of the preceptor’s evaluations, verification of hours completed, submission of the final products demonstrating all 5 competencies selected, poster, and poster presentation. Completion of ALL course requirements, evaluations, and forms will be taken into considerations when determining the grade. Unsatisfactory completion of the internship components will result in a No Pass (NP). 

MIDPOINT THROUGH THE INTERNSHIP

Approximately halfway through the internship, the student should complete the Student Midpoint Reflection of Internship Experience in APEx. This reflection is an opportunity for the student to discuss where they are in their internship, describe any changes to their internship activities, identify gaps in training, address challenges, and evaluate what needs to be done to gain the most out of the experience. Once submitted, the student midpoint reflection of the internship experience will be sent to the preceptor, internship advisor, and internship coordinator. 

Students will be evaluated by their preceptor at the midpoint of the internship based on the student’s work habits, professionalism, and communication with the preceptor and others at the organization. The midpoint evaluation of student performance helps identify areas of strength and improvement for the student. Students should review the evaluation, reflect on the feedback provided, and make changes as needed to ensure positive feedback on the final evaluation. Students are responsible for requesting their preceptor complete the mid-point evaluation of student performance in APEx at midpoint of their internship. Once submitted, the student midpoint evaluation will be sent to the preceptor, internship advisor, and internship coordinator. 

After the student completes the Midpoint Reflection of the Internship Experience and requests the preceptor to complete the Midpoint Evaluation of Student Performance, the student should set up a time to meet with their internship advisor to review this information. The internship advisor will need to confirm the meeting took place by completing the Internship Midpoint Meeting Confirmation Form in APEx.

INTERNSHIP POSTER AND PRESENTATION

Each student must complete an electronic poster (sharing of posters is not acceptable) which highlights their internship experience. The poster should be formatted using the MPH Internship Poster Template.

The electronic poster should be uploaded to APEx prior to the last day of classes the semester in which the student completes the internship. If you need further guidance on completing your poster, please speak with the Internship Coordinators or your Internship Advisor.

MPH Poster Presentation

In addition to the electronic poster, students are responsible for recording a poster presentation of their internship experience. Students should follow the instructions on the Poster Requirements page when creating their electronic poster and recording the poster presentation. The poster does not have to be professionally printed but the electronic poster and link to the poster video should be uploaded to APEx prior to the last day of classes the semester the student is completing their internship.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person Internship Poster Session has been canceled until further notice. All students should complete the electronic poster and internship poster presentation guidelines on the Poster Requirement page.

FINAL PRODUCTS

Products are tangible work items developed by the student during their internship that benefit the agency or community the agency serves. At the end of the internship, students are required to submit at least two (2) final products that demonstrate the five competencies selected in their Internship Proposal Form. However, students must map all five (5) competencies to the products, thus more than two products may be required. Examples of work products. 

HOUR LOG

Students must complete a minimum of 180 contact hours with the organization during the semester in which they are registered for the internship. However, the internship site can require the student to complete additional hours above the minimum of 180 hours required.

Students should enter their hours at a minimum in biweekly intervals (i.e at the end of every 2-weeks) to allow for their internship advisor, the internship coordinator, and preceptor to keep up with their progress in the APEx Portal.

Students must submit their final Internship Hour Log by the last day of their internship. Your preceptor will be asked to review the hour log and verify the number of hours worked during the internship when completing the Final Evaluation of Student Performance.

AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE INTERNSHIP

Both the student and the internship preceptor will complete a reflection/evaluation via APEx during the last week of classes the semester in which the internship is completed. In addition, the student should also submit the agreed-upon final products and final hour log in the APEx portal.


STUDENT INTERNSHIP CHECKLIST

•    Check with your departmental program coordinator for any special department/program requirements
•    Consult with your internship advisor
•    Identify an internship site 
•    Apply for the internship opportunity 
•    Complete and submit “UAB School of Public Health Internship Proposal Form” via APEx
•    Obtain electronic approval of the proposal from their internship advisor and preceptor 
•    If necessary, complete and submit IRB Approval Form and Affiliation Agreements
•    If an international student, complete and submit appropriate forms to the International Scholar and Student Services Office
•    If traveling abroad, register with Education Abroad
•    Register for the appropriate 3-hour course
•    Formally check in with preceptor and internship advisor during a mid-point meeting approximately halfway through the internship
•    Submit evaluation forms, hour log, final products, electronic poster, and link to the video of their poster presentation before the last day of class via APEx