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MPH Experiential Learning

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Overview | Admission | Curriculum | Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning

Practicum (3 credits)

The practicum or field experience is an important part of the Master of Public Health program. Practical experience provides an opportunity for students to synthesize, integrate, and apply practical skills and knowledge learned through courses to gain professional experience in a public health work environment. The practicum is an effort undertaken by students in the MPH program in cooperation with community organizations, government agencies, and other workplaces. It requires students to spend a minimum of 200 hours working in public health environment. The nature and location of the practicum is flexible.

Students have completed their practicum in many different settings, including:

  • Boston Public Health Commission
  • Veteran's Association Medical Center
  • Brookline Public Schools
  • Multicultural AIDS Coalition
  • Boston Urban Asthma Coalition
  • Granada Health Clinic, Nicaragua
  • Harvard Catalyst Public Communication Program
  • Synthesis Health Systems
  • Massachusetts Joint Committee on Health Care Finance
  • MyTown
  • Beacon Health Strategies
  • Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
  • Massachusetts Internation Community Economic Development
  • JRI Health
  • John Snow, Inc.

Capstone Project (3 credits)

As a culminating experience, students are required to complete a Capstone Project associated with the required 3 credit Community-based Practicum in Urban Health. An extension of the required practicum, the Capstone project provides students with the opportunity to develop or take on projects of mutual interest to a public health agency or student in a range of diverse public health practice settings reflective of their particular urban health focus. The Capstone Project provides students with the opportunity to integrate their theory and practice experiences in a major research, program planning, policy development, management, service delivery, or evaluation project. Community-based participatory projects are actively encouraged and, to the extent possible, Capstone Projects have as a goal the active contribution to the health of the local community. Capstone Projects are student led and designed in consultation with community partners. Faculty members provide guidance and mentoring. Students participate in a Capstone Seminar intended to support the integration of their practice and analytic experiences.

Opportunities

Affiliated Institutes and Centers

Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice
The IUHR's seven faculty, three graduate fellows and nine research staff are focusing research on health issues that disproportionately impact urban communities, such as substance abuse, HIV/AIDS prevention and policy, interventions for children diagnosed with asthma, cardiovascular disease behavioral interventions, nutrition behavioral interventions with school age children, traditional Chinese health practices, racial and ethnic differences in service delivery patterns, and brain mechanisms involved in opiate tolerance. The goal of the IUHR is to improve the health of urban populations through the generation of knowledge that informs health policies, disease prevention programs and health services. In its first year of funding, the IUHR received more than $1.4 million in research and training grants and has partnered with the Boston Public Health Commission, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and community health centers. In addition to these agencies, the IUHR's Advisory Board includes representation from Partners Health Care, Boston Public Schools, Blue Cross/Blue Shield as well as nationally renowned scholars from diverse institutions throughout the country. 

Center for Population Health and Health Disparities
The Boston Puerto Rican Health Study at Northeastern University is one of ten Centers for Population Health and Health Disparities (CPHHD) funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Puerto Rican adults living on the United States mainland have documented health disparities; however, little research has been conducted with this second largest Hispanic subgroup. Our long-term goal is to understand the complex interactions of diet and other behavioral and environmental factors, genetics, and psychosocial stress on the high and apparently increasing prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in Puerto Rican adults. Importantly, the Puerto Rican population differs considerably in ancestral genetic history and in exposures to known risk factors from other Hispanic groups. They have unique dietary intake patterns, as well as social, cultural, and environmental structures that contribute and affect reaction to stressors. As this group is rapidly growing, understanding the reasons for this risk is of great importance. Our initial funding period for the Boston Puerto Rican Center on Population Health and Health Disparities (BPR-CPHHD, 2003-08) focused on the role of stress on physical disability and cognitive decline through physiological dysregulation or “allostatic load.” During that investigation, it became clear that risk factors for CVD were highly prevalent. These findings are in contrast to the commonly held belief that there is a Hispanic paradox-lower heart disease and mortality despite greater poverty. The overall aim for the Center is, therefore, to extend follow-up and to measure and analyze relevant characteristics and CVD risk factors, and to add additional contextual and outcome measures for CVD risk in this established cohort of Puerto Rican adults; this will allow us to better understand the dynamics of these disparities.

Center for Community Health Education Research and Service
The Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Inc. (CCHERS) is a community-based organization that is a community/academic partnership established in 1991 with a $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Partnerships in Health Professions Education initiative. The partnership is comprised of Boston Medical Center, the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston University School of Medicine, Northeastern University Bouvé College of Health Sciences and an established network of fifteen community health centers (FQHC) serving the racially and ethnically diverse populations of the City. Northeastern University serves as its host institution and sustaining partner. Mission and Goals To promote the development of “academic community health centers,” that integrate education, research, and service, to influence and change health professions education; improve health care delivery; and promote health systems change to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health. Promote community based, primary care oriented education for a range of health professions students, from high school through graduate and professional school, to improve community health services provided to underserved populations. Promote community derived and directed health services and clinical research, in partnerships with academic medical center, government, and university researchers that focus on health problems that impact diverse urban populations. Promote coordination of services and interagency collaboration among universities, health service providers, community-based organizations, and community residents to create healthier communities. Promote public policy and institutional change in health professions education, community health, and health care access to create an equitable health care system for all.

Career Opportunities

Graduates with an MPH degree are employed in a number of varied professional settings including: federal, state and local health agencies, universities and colleges, hospitals, ambulatory medical centers, nonprofit organizations, community-based agencies, insurance and pharmaceutical industries, health maintenance organizations, and private foundations.


Contact Info

Laura Desrochers, MPH
312 Robinson Hall