The Practicum Experience
One of the most valuable times in a student’s graduate education at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health is the practicum experience. The practicum is a graduate level internship under the supervision of a public health professional that provides students with an opportunity to apply the public health concepts, strategies and tools acquired throughout their classroom studies.
Our students complete practicums at hospitals and health related agencies/organizations not only locally and statewide, but nationally and internationally as well.
Three students recently completed their practicums in places as varied as the National Rural Health Association, Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Meridian Health.
Denise Adame completed a summer internship with the NRHA, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. The NRHA works to improve the health and well-being of rural Americans and to make an impact on local communities.
Denise assisted with several influential initiatives, including the Border Health Initiative where she developed evaluation tools for community health worker training programs along the U.S./Mexico border. Denise also assisted with a proposal to create an International Rural Health Task Force to explore the potential for the NRHA to engage in international rural health efforts.
Denise was also selected soon following the completion of her internship as a new representative for NRHA’s student constituency group that provides input and creates dialogue about rural health, workforce and policy. As one of the student constituency representatives, she is now a member of NRHA’s Rural Health Congress, the policy-making body of the organization that determines their positions on public policy through a series of policy briefs and issue papers. In addition she has been subcontracted by NRHA to complete evaluations she began during her internship.
“The NRHA provided me an excellent opportunity to further develop my leadership, communication and networking skills through collaborations with representatives in Washington D.C., the National Rural Task Force and state rural health associations,” states Adame.
Larissa Georgeon Richard completed a twelve-week practicum with the Maternal, Child and Family Health Division of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Larissa was selected for one of 33 positions from 100 applicants by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
She conducted literature reviews, calculated bivariate and multivariate analysis using SAS (Statistical Analysis Software) and identified disproportionate feto-infant mortality rates. Larissa used the Perinatal Periods of Risk approach to prioritize prevention efforts for feto-infant mortality among non-Hispanic Black women in Philadelphia. Larissa not only interpreted results, but gained practical experience presenting data to other researchers and community members. Larissa’s dedication to a community approach for solving adverse health conditions was amplified in this experience, as she was able to observe local health departments and many community organizations work together to promote good public health.
Sarah Loh traveled to New Jersey to complete her summer practicum at Meridian Health in the Cultural Diversity Department.
She helped educate her superiors on the importance of language services as well as the level of impact language assistance programs have on the length of stay in health facilities. Her Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats (SWOT) analysis brought a fresh perspective that enabled further examination of critical areas for improvement and maximization.
Sarah brought a different perspective to senior leadership on targeting a younger workforce with questions such as should we really fault the new generation for looking more casual or rather focus on skill set rather than appearances? Additionally, Sarah helped with several marketing projects, including maximizing usage of the website to emphasize the importance of every department within the organization.
“I learned at Meridian Health that every decision has diverse implications. The health system is extraordinary and innovative, and I am grateful to have experienced the unique culture that makes up the organization and its community,” states Loh.