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Introduction

The information provided in this handbook is designed to provide students with the necessary information to successfully plan for the public health internship experience.

Description

The public health internship is a planned, approved, supervised and evaluated field experience in a professional agency involved in the delivery of public health related services. The internship is designed to integrate theory and practice in an applied setting under supervision. The internship experience permits the student to demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge of theory of public health practice in a real-world setting.  It is required that students have significant contact with the agency and its personnel, and that the majority of the internship work is conducted on site.  Internships conducted solely under faculty supervision, such as research or laboratory work, are not acceptable for PHP 422.

The public health internship placement offered by the program is generalist in nature, emphasizing the full range of roles essential to public health practice with individuals, groups, organizations, and communities. Opportunities for internship placement related to the range of generalist functions are planned for each student within the limits imposed by a given site’s mission, structure, and the modes of intervention that characterize its service delivery. Internship placement is offered in a variety of organizations, businesses, and agencies throughout central New York, the state, and the region. More information about the site selection process is described on pages 4-5.

Placements Outside of the Syracuse Area

The public health major recognizes the value of potential internship placement opportunities outside of the Syracuse area as a means to enhance student experience and knowledge of public health. To qualify for PHP 422 internship placement outside of the Syracuse area, a student must:

  • Complete a request process to complete an out-of-area placement.
    • The student submits a one-page document to the internship coordinator that provides evidence in academic or co-curricular activities of the capacity to:
      • Set realistic goals
      • Work independently
      • Seek opportunities for learning or professional development
    • The request is then discussed among the internship staff, faculty advisor, and other faculty as needed. Approval to seek an outside of Syracuse internship placement is awarded or denied based on the following:
      • Student meet with their academic advisor to discuss interests and identify potential internship sites. The student is responsible for initial contact with the potential internship site. The initial contact seeks to gain agency interest and assess capacity to host a public health intern. The internship coordinator follows-up with agency personnel to further discuss the nature of the internship experience.
      • Final approval is dependent in part of the execution of a contract between the agency and Syracuse University. Note: This contract process may take 2-3 months to complete. Placements must be finalized by May 1 (summer internship), December 10th (spring internship), or August 10th (fall internship).

NOTE:  Students are required to complete all P.H.P. 422 requirements as stated in the syllabus, including participating in the poster presentation (physical presence in Syracuse required; no ‘virtual’ presentation substitutions allowed).

Academic Credit

PHP 422 Senior Capstone Internship carries two (2) to nine (9) academic credits based on concentration:  2 credits (100 hours) for Addiction Studies, 3 credits (135 hours) for Health Care Management and Health & Society, and 9 credits (400 hours) for Community Health Education.  The internship is completed over one (1) 15-week semester or one (1) combined summer session.

Registration for PHP 422 Senior Capstone Internship

Registration for PHP 422 is by “permission of instructor” only. Permission will be granted to students who:

  • Are designated as senior-level status (earned a minimum of 85 credits applicable to the Public Health major).
  • Whose courses completed to date have been reviewed for applicability to the internship experience.
  • Have attended the group meeting scheduled the semester prior to their planned internship.
  • Have completed all required paperwork and secured faculty advisor signatures.
  • Have met with the internship placement coordinator to finalize the placement

Failure to meet these requirements will result in a delay in registration for PHP 422 and may ultimately delay graduation.

To allow sufficient time to complete the required hours in the internship, it is highly recommended that students limit their semester total credit registration to 12-15 credits, inclusive of the internship.

Internship Outcomes

At the completion of the public health internship, the student will demonstrate competency in entry-level public health generalist skills:

As demonstrated in the practice setting:

  1. Demonstrate professional workplace behavior.
  2. Communicate in oral and written formats appropriate to professional and academic settings.
  3. Interact with individuals, groups, and/or communities across diverse settings.
  4. Participate as a member of a professional workplace team.

As demonstrated by the capstone paper:

  1. Utilize conceptual frameworks, theory, and scientific evidence to shape public health practice.
  2. Evaluate and synthesize public health and other scientific information to improve population level health.
  3. Think critically about public health problems.

Selection of Internship Placement Settings

In selecting organizations as potential settings for internship placement, the Public Health Program looks for evidence of commitment to a learning environment for public health practice. The following represents some of the criteria utilized in the selection process:

  1. The acceptance of professional education for public health as part of the philosophy and practice of the organization by the board of directors, the executive, and the organization staff members.
  2. The degree of congruence between the organization’s policies and procedures and the philosophy and objectives of the public health program.
  3. The extent to which an organization fosters a climate conducive to student learning.
  4. The availability of qualified site supervisors.
  5. The willingness of the organization administration to release the site supervisor from other responsibilities to function as site supervisor to plan the student’s program, prepare for and hold supervisory conferences, and generally to supervise the student’s progress.
  6. The willingness of the organization to accept the student as a learner whose assignment must be geared to learning needs rather than the scheduling demands and workload of the organization.
  7. Student assignments must be flexible enough to maximize learning, neither too superficial nor too repetitive.
  8. The availability of adequate physical space and provision of adequate support services, office supplies, etc.
  9. The organization’s agreement to treat all information, including evaluations of students, as confidential.
  10. The organization’s willingness to allow the student to use the internship experience and other appropriate material, with confidentiality protected, in classroom discussions and assignments, including the capstone presentation.
  11. The organization’s willingness to allow the student to take part in staff meetings, in-service staff training, interagency conferences and such other education opportunities as might arise.

Employed Placement Policy

If a student wishes to request a placement in an agency in which he/she will be simultaneously employed, the following minimal conditions must be met:

  • The organization possesses an interest in an opportunity for public health practice.
  • An individual must be available as site supervisor, subject to the approval of the Department of Public Health. The site supervisor may not be the same individual who supervises the student in the work setting or has supervised the student in the past.
  • The proposed internship placement activities and requirements must differ significantly from previous or current employment responsibilities in the agency.
  • The proposed internship placement assignment must meet curriculum requirements.

Students who wish to secure an employed placement meet with the internship placement coordinator to discuss their learning interest and goals. The constraints of an employed placement are reviewed and other options available to the student are discussed. Once it is determined that an employed placement is the best option for the student, the faculty advisor and internship placement coordinator make final decisions regarding employed placements.

Roles and Responsibilities

Agency Role

The agency’s role is to help students develop in public health roles and skills. Progressive increases in tasks and student involvement should occur as the student’s proficiency and knowledge of the agency increases. Tasks for students may involve data collection, writing informational brochures, program planning and development, implementation assistance, evaluation of conferences or programs, and direct contact with community clients. The agency must provide meaningful work in which a student can be productive by applying skills or learning new ones, and by providing supervision and guidance consistent with a student’s needs and progress. Public health interns are productive assets, capable of assuming responsibility and fulfilling tasks. The internship experience also provides the agency an opportunity to observe the student as a prospective employee in the field of public health. 

All public health interns are required to design and implement a capstone project that demonstrates a contribution to the placement agency and public health. The agency must have the capability to support this requirement. The agency site supervisor, along with the internship placement coordinator, will assist in guiding the process.

It is further understood that the organization serving as the internship placement site will:

  • Provide a site supervisor who possesses the knowledge, experience and skills necessary for public health placement.
  • Allow the site supervisor minimum time as deemed appropriate to dedicate time to a student each week for individual supervision.
  • Allow the site supervisor time to attend other meetings as requested by the student and/or the internship placement coordinator and the capstone presentation as appropriate.

Site Supervisor's Responsibilities

Prior to the beginning of the internship:

  • Participate in the formal communication processes with the internship placement coordinator and student prior to student initiation of the experience.
  • Review and sign off on the student’s learning objectives.
  • Prepare a schedule outlining job duties and supervision before the student begins the experience.
  • Participate, if appropriate, in the students’ interview process.

During the internship:

  • Plan an orientation for the intern to the agency’s physical setting, policies, services, and links with other service delivery systems in the local community, region, state, or nation.
  • Provide clear communication to the intern regarding day-to-day expectations.
  • Enrich the intern’s learning opportunities through carefully selected educational experiences.
  • Hold a supervisory conference (with the student) of at least one hour of “protected time” per week, in addition to “normal” interaction throughout the weeks.
  • Assess regularly the intern’s level of knowledge, educational needs and interest in collaboration with the internship placement coordinator.
  • Review and sign the student’s time sheets.
  • Participate in the evaluation of Intern Performance:
    • Situations in which the student’s performance brings into question the student’s ability or willingness to meet minimally acceptable standards are communicated to both the student and the internship placement coordinator. Obvious examples are erratic attendance patterns, failure to keep appointments or other obligations, inappropriate behavior in the professional role, violation of the ethics or laws, and refusal or failure to carry out policies or procedures that are vital to the organization’s functioning. It is especially crucial that any performance deficiency be brought to the student’s attention as soon as it has been observed. Only in this way do the student and the site supervisor and internship placement coordinator have full opportunity to initiate timely corrective steps.
    • Provide the internship placement coordinator with a written evaluation of the intern’s performance at the mid- and end of term. PHP 422 Internship Evaluation Forms will be provided in advance to the site supervisor.
    • Discuss the mid-term evaluation with the intern and internship placement coordinator at a scheduled meeting.
    • Intern activities which may be evaluated may include but are not limited to: review of work products (brochures, education materials, literature reviews), oral presentations, participation in group meetings, and fulfillment of daily responsibilities.

Intern Responsibilities

The intern, with the support of the internship placement coordinator, has major responsibility for his/her own learning, and is expected to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of the internship placement experience. Responsibilities center on the use of supervision, the use of organization resources and materials and participation in self-evaluation. While in placement, the intern is expected to maintain the same ethical standards and practices as the professional staff.

Use of Supervision:

The intern is expected to prepare for and participate in regular conferences with the site supervisor, focusing on the student’s learning and application of public health concepts. In an effort to foster the integration of theory to practice, the student may share relevant materials and syllabi with the site supervisor in addition to appropriate classroom discussions and experiences. The intern uses this professional relationship as a constructive toll in his/her total educational program.

Use of Organization Material:

There should be a clear understanding among the organization, the intern and the department about the student’s use of an organization’s material in the classroom. In some cases, the organization may require the intern to sign a “non-compete” clause that prohibits the student from sharing proprietary materials outside of the internship site.

The Intern as a Member of the Organization:

The intern takes responsibility for becoming a part of the placement setting and participates as a responsible member of the staff. Attendance at meetings and conferences in the organization and community encouraged. The student should take advantage of appropriate opportunities to broaden the learning experience within the setting consistent with educational and service obligations. Students need to understand and accept the importance of planning their time, keeping appointments, maintaining office routine, and of maintaining professional demeanor. Variations in schedule are worked out between the intern and the site supervisor, with the internship placement coordinator being kept informed.

Use of Collaborative Problem Solving:

The public health program respects the right of the intern to raise and pursue issues regarding his/her placement. Such concerns should be brought by the intern to the internship placement coordinator. The first step in most cases involves the internship coordinator coaching the student on possible ways to resolve the problem him/herself. The process of problem solving on one’s own behalf is an important part of professional development. If this fails, the intern, internship placement coordinator and site supervisor initiate a joint meeting to further assess and enact problem resolution strategies.

Protection of Confidentiality

Interns will protect the confidentiality of all individuals seeking services within the assigned internship setting. A confidentiality form will be signed by the student, site supervisor, and internship placement coordinator. These forms will be kept on file at Syracuse University.

Faculty Advisor Role

  • Mentor advisee throughout academic career to help identify interest areas that will help shape internship placement.
  • Review professional resume.
  • Act as consultant to internship placement coordinator.
  • Approve the placement sites suggested by the student and internship placement coordinator.

Internship Placement Coordinator Role

  • Mentor student throughout academic career to achieve career goals and provide guidance and support relative to the students’ potential.
  • Develop internship opportunities through contacts in practice and service activities.
  • Assist students with drafting learning objectives.
  • Arrange for placement of students with agencies congruent with student career and/or academic interests, and ability level.
  • Serve as a liaison among the student, the internship site and academic advisor.
  • Conduct periodic internship site visits.
  • Meet or communicate with the student intern throughout planning and placement to facilitate a successful and productive placement experience.
  • Evaluate students’ attainment of internship objectives.
  • Grade student portfolios and capstone projects.
  • Instruct PHP 422 seminar classes.

Internship Planning Timeline

February

Orientation meeting for Summer, Fall, and following spring internships.

March

Meeting with academic advisor. Internship application due to Public Health Administrative Assistant, 344 White Hall.

April

Confirmation of eligibility for Summer and Fall registrants. Follow-up meeting with internship placement coordinator scheduled for all Summer and Fall internship students. Agency interviews completed.

May (Summer), August (Fall), December (Spring)

Internship placements confirmed and communicated to student intern, administrative assistant, director of undergraduate programs.

September to October

Follow-up meeting with internship placement coordinator scheduled for all Spring internship students. Agency interviews completed.

Summary

Step 1: 

Complete the PHP 422 Internship form.  Type in the fields on the application as indicated and submit the application. After you submit the application, a copy of your completed responses will be sent to you via email. Print the copy that is sent via email. This print copy will need to be signed by your advisor.

Step 2: 

Prepare or update a resume that is grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. Consider scheduling an appointment with Falk Career Services for assistance on building your resume. 

Step 3: 

Make an appointment to meet with your advisor to discuss your eligibility for PHP 422, your resume, your interests and your plans post-graduation. This discussion will help guide internship possibilities. Your advisor will sign your application.

Step 4:

The signed application, your resume and academic advising transcript (an official transcript from the Registrar’s Office is not necessary) should then be turned into the Administrative Assistant, in suite 444 White Hall.

Step 5: 

Once all the required materials have been received by the Administrative Assistant in suite 444, you will receive an email that asks you to schedule an appointment with the Public Health Internship Coordinators. A meeting with the internship coordinators is mandatory. No student will be provided an internship placement until they have met with an internship coordinator.  PHP 422 is a permission-only course. Failure to complete the necessary application and placement process in a timely manner may impede your ability to register for the course and complete your internship. Students will be notified via email when they have been given permission to register for the course.

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