INTERNSHIP POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

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INTERNSHIP POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

All MPH students in the SOPH are required to complete a minimum of three (3) credit hours in an internship experience (PUH/HB/EPI/HCO/ENH 697); 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 develop skills in basic health concepts and demonstrate the application of these concepts through a practice experience that is relevant to the students' 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.

The internship experience must be appropriately planned, supervised, and evaluated.  Each student undertaking an internship must acquire permission of the student's SOPH faculty advisor and the on-site preceptor/supervisor.  You must be registered for PUH/HB/EPI/HCO/ENH 697 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. To be sure about when you are eligible to register for your internship, check with your department's program coordinator.

 

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 attainment of at least five (5) MPH Competencies. Of these competencies, three (3) must be MPH Foundational Competencies. The remaining two (2) may be Foundational or 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. Examples of Final Products. 
  • Students must complete a minimum of 180 contact hours with their internship site, completed within a single academic semester.
  • An internship description and agreement form must be approved by the student’s faculty advisor and preceptor before the student can register and begin their internship. All forms, evaluations, and deliverables are housed in InternTrack.

 

PLANNING THE INTERNSHIP

Planning for the internship should take place at least 4-6 months prior to the semester in which the students 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) faculty 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 you are working full-time while completing the MPH program, it is possible to complete your internship at your current job site as long as your internship is still focused on public health practice and it is NOT part of your normal job duties. It must be a separate project or additional activity.
  • Federal and Large Program Deadlines: If you are interested in completing your 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, discuss the scope of your internship with your 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.

 

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/ENH/EPI/HB/HCO 697 in Various Locations Program. When students reach the program description, click "Apply Now". When selecting UAB faculty member responsible, select your faculty 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. Students must apply for Curricular Practical Training ("CPT") by completing the steps listed in the F-1 curricular practical training document. The Office of Public Health Practice will complete the academic letter.   

 

REGISTRATION 

Prior to registration for (PUH/HB/EPI/HCO/ENH 697: Internship), the student must complete the Internship Description and Agreement Form in InternTrack. Both the preceptor and SOPH faculty 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 faculty 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.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS (complete prior to registration)

The student is responsible for the completion and submission of the "UAB School of Public Health Internship Description and Agreement Form." This is an electronic form which is completed by the student and approved by the preceptor and faculty advisor through InternTrack, the UAB School of Public Health's internship tracking system.  

The Internship Description and Agreement 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 Evaluation of Internship Experience 
  • Preceptor's Midpoint and Final Evaluation of Student Performance
  • Faculty 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 attendance at the poster session 
  • Submission and verification of Hours Log 
  • Any other deliverables and products as determined by site and preceptor 

All forms and required documents are submitted online through InternTrack. 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 faculty 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 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 Evaluation of Internship Experience in InternTrack. This evaluation is an opportunity for the student to reflect on 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 evaluation of the internship experience will be sent to the preceptor, faculty 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 InternTrack at midpoint of their internship. Once submitted, the student midpoint evaluation will be sent to the preceptor, faculty advisor, and internship coordinator. 

After the student submits the Student Midpoint Meeting Form, the student should set up a time to meet with their faculty advisor to review this information. The faculty advisor will need to confirm the meeting took place by completing the Faculty Midpoint Meeting Confirmation Form in InternTrack.

 

INTERNSHIP POSTER SESSION

At the end of the internship, prior to the end of exams for that semester, a poster session will be held to showcase the internships completed during that semester.  Students should follow the instructions on the Poster Requirements page when creating their poster. You will receive additional instructions and details regarding the poster session prior to the event. Attendance is mandatory, as it is a required component to the internship experience.  Failure to attend (or late arrival) without permission from the Internship Coordinator will result in a No Pass grade for the internship course. This poster should also be uploaded to InternTrack prior to the due date (exact date announced by Internship Coordinator).

Alternative Option:  Limited exceptions will be made for students still completing their internships out of the state or internationally, completing their residency program at the time of the poster session, or cannot attend due to medical reasons.  Eligible students may submit a request for an alternative poster option through the Alternative Internship Poster Presentation Request in InternTrack (link available in InternTrack). This form must be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the internship poster session. Completion of the form does not guarantee permission to complete the alternative option. If approved, students will create an electronic version of their poster using the template provided on the Poster Requirements page. This poster does not have to be professionally printed, but should be uploaded to InternTrack prior to the due date. 

In addition, students granted an alternative option are required to record a video of themselves presenting their poster as if they were attending the poster session. The video should be at least 3 minutes in length. In the video, the student should provide an overview of their hosting organization, background of the project the student worked on, relevance to public health, their role in the project, the impact of the work they completed, lessons learned, and how the internship relates to the course material learned during the MPH program including the MPH foundational and departmental competencies selected. The video should be uploaded as an unlisted video onto YouTube. Students will include the link to their poster video when submitting their poster in InternTrack. To see ideas on how to present the material, watch some of the past MPH Student Poster Presentations. Student videos can be recorded through a camera or phone. 

 

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 Description and Agreement Form. However, students must map all five (5) competencies to the products, thus more than two products may be required. Examples of work products. 

 

HOURS 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, if the internship site can require the student to complete additional hours above the minimum 180 hours required.

Students must submit the UAB MPH Internship Hour Log by the last day of their internship in InternTrack. Once submitted, a copy of the hour log will go directly to the preceptor, faculty advisor, and OPHP. The 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 an evaluation via the InternTrack during the last week of the semester. In addition, the student should also submit the agree-upon final products to the same designee.


INTERNSHIP CHECKLIST

•    Check with your departmental program coordinator for any special department/program requirements
•    Consult with your faculty advisor
•    Identify an internship site 
•    Apply for the internship opportunity 
•    Complete and submit “UAB School of Public Health Internship Description and Agreement Form” via InternTrack
•    Obtain electronic approval of agreement from faculty 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 faculty advisor during a mid-point meeting approximately halfway through the internship
•    Submit evaluation forms, hour log, final products, and poster before the last day of class via InternTrack
•    Attend the poster session