The MPH in Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) supports a robust practicum program through a formal partnership with its local health department, Public Health—Seattle & King County, that provides students an opportunity to integrate academic training and practice within a metropolitan health department setting. This arrangement began in 2003, when the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Public Health agency received a one-year Associated Schools of Public Health “academic health department” grant. Since then, the health department has served as a teaching institution for COPHP students and a venue to train students on-site in real-world public health practice. COPHP student and faculty linkages provide a vehicle to enhance the public health workforce through resource sharing and technical assistance, and have expanded public health department staff opportunities to conduct community-based public health research and projects with UW faculty. Nearly all first year COPHP students are placed in practicum assignments at Public Health that complement their coursework. COPHP pays for a part-time practicum coordinator who is a Public Health employee and a COPHP graduate. The coordinator solicits practicum opportunities from Public Health staff, reviews projects for feasibility and appropriateness of skills, oversees students’ self-assessments, and works with site supervisors to initiate the practicums. Students work closely with faculty advisers throughout the process. Practicum projects include community assessment, health education, program planning and evaluation, policy development, and community mobilization. The service learning experience has been beneficial to Public Health, COPHP students, and the greater King County community.
Keywords: Academic health department, Employment, Experience, Faculty adviser, Learning contract, Networking, Partnership, Practicum, Project, Selfassessment, Site supervisor.