the culminating experience.

The multi-semester Culminating Experience is the centerpiece of the CWRU MPH Program. A Public Health field practicum and multi-semester Capstone project required of all MPH students, this two course sequence (9 credits total) places students in health related settings to work on projects of mutual interest to the agency or organization and the student. The experience gives students the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired through their academic course work to a problem involving the health of the community. Students learn to communicate with target groups in an effective manner, to order priorities for major projects according to definable criteria, to use computers for specific applications relevant to public health, to identify ethical, social, and cultural issues relating to public health policies, research and interventions, to identify the process by which decisions are made within the organization or agency, and to identify and coordinate the use of resources at the site.

The Public Health Practicum is an integral component of the MPH curriculum, allowing students to apply, develop, and refine their public health skills and knowledge in a supervised, community-based experience. To complete the Practicum, students register for three (3) credits of MPHP 650 ‘Public Health Practicum’, dedicating at least 120 hours to a substantial public health experience with a governmental agency or community organization which contributes to the public health system.

Capstone Projects are broadly oriented toward a problem involving the health of the community. The manner in which credits are allocated between semesters is flexible and is determined by the student and their advisor. Projects must be relevant to the student’s chosen major. Students are strongly encouraged to complete their Practicum and Capstone experience as a single culminating experience, with a single culminating experience proposal that describes both the Practicum and Capstone project. The Capstone Essay, an essay of publishable quality, is presented to peers and advisors during the biennial Innovations in Population Health Conference in the semester in which they intend to graduate. Samples of Capstone Essays are available in the MPH Office. Students can also submit a manuscript in lieu of the traditional Capstone Essay. Students are encouraged to pursue other sites of their own choosing as well. The Capstone Experience is supported by MPHP 507 - Building a Public Health Project and the “Culminating Experience Guide” publication.

Students completing unrelated Practicum and Capstone are required to submit separate proposals for each experience.
Additional information and supporting documentation related to the Culminating Experience can be found as a link throughout the MPH website.

Public Health Practicum (MPHP 650) Requirements

  • A minimum of 120 hours (3 credit hours) engaged in experiential education with a community partner organization and:
  • A structured, individually arranged Practicum agreement with a community partner that describes the nature of the Practicum experience, including public health competencies addressed
  • An identified Practicum preceptor, who also may serve as a member of the Capstone Committee when the Public Health Capstone is done with the same organization
  • Evaluation of the student by the Practicum preceptor
  • A Practicum report that describes the full practicum experience, including competencies addressed and perceived affect of the experience on future career
  • A Practicum annotated bibliography, describing a minimum of 10 readings related to the Practicum experience
  • An evaluation of the Practicum site and Practicum preceptor by the student

Public Health Capstone (MPHP 652) Requirements

  • A minimum of 240 hours (6 credit hours) dedicated to a Capstone project involving a scholarly project of mutual benefit to the student and the partner and:
  • Preparation and Submission of a Capstone Essay of publishable quality
  • Presentation of Capstone Project at biennial Innovations in Population Health Conference
  • Evaluation of the Capstone Essay and Capstone Presentation from at least 3 members of the Capstone Committee

Competencies-Based Approach to the Culminating Experience:

At a minimum, every Culminating Experience should address the following competencies:

  • Understand the role of epidemiology in the control of health problems, including an understanding of the language of epidemiology and ability to calculate basic epidemiologic measures, an ability to comprehend basic ethical and legal principles pertaining to the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of epidemiologic data, and an ability to evaluate and communicate the strengths and limitations of epidemiologic reports. (Level: Sufficient to Advanced)
  • Understand the behavioral, social, and cultural factors related to individual and population health, including an ability to identify basic theories, concepts, and models from a range of social and behavioral disciplines that are used in public health research and practice, describe the role of social and community factors in both the onset and solution of public health problems, and apply evidence-based approaches to the development and evaluation of social and behavioral science interventions. (Level: Sufficient to Advanced)
  • Demonstrate effective written and oral skills for communicating with different audiences in the context of professional public health activities. (Level: Advanced)
  • Engage in dialogue and learning from others to advance public health goals. (Level: Advanced)
  • In collaboration with others, prioritize individual, organizational, and community concerns and resources for public health programs. (Level: Sufficient to Advanced)
  • Analyze the effects of political, social, and economic policies on public health systems at the local, state, national, and international levels. (Level: Sufficient to Advanced)

Possible Approaches to the Culminating Experience

Program Design
Design a health-related program that could be implemented at the Capstone site, including instructions, procedures, manuals, and materials. Alternatively, participate in the design of a new program initiated by the Capstone site.

Program Implementation
Participate in a substantive way towards the implementation of a program already planned at the Capstone site.

Data Analysis
Complete a substantial new analysis of existing data (e.g., dataset, survey, or claims database) on a health-related topic and report on the results.

Community Intervention
Design and implement a community intervention supported by the Capstone site.

Program Evaluation
Evaluate an existing program to assess the effectiveness and outcomes of the program.

Health Policy Statement/Advocacy
Develop a health policy position paper related to the mission of the Capstone site and advocate for its approval. Alternatively, for some students, a position paper may be written on a health topic of local, state, regional, national, or international importance.

Population Health Research
Research the determinants or distribution of a health problem identified by the Capstone site.

Community Assessment
Undertake in-depth analysis of the health characteristics of a defined population or community of interest to the Capstone site.

Public Health Services & Systems Research
Research the nature of access to health care, quality and cost of services, or evaluation of the provision and design of health services offered by the Capstone site.

Survey Research
Survey an identified population on a topic of mutual interest with the Capstone site.

Community Partners:

Individual faculty may have projects suitable for Capstone Experiences as well.