Public health practicum: a scoping review of current practice in graduate public health education

Gummeson, Hannah, Raj Goel, Sonika and Elmusharaf, Khalifa (2021) Public health practicum: a scoping review of current practice in graduate public health education. BMJ Open, 11 (5). e047512. ISSN 2044-6055



The objectives of this study are to (1) identify Graduate Public Health (GPH) programmes with an integrated practicum, (2) determine current practice for practicum design and (3) use the information to make recommendations to inform the design of Public Health Graduate programme practicums.

Scoping review.
Data sources

Academic Ranking World Universities 2019 was used to identify top 10 institutions in each geographical hub offering GPH programmes. Each GPH programme website was searched for practicum information.
Eligibility criteria

GPH programmes offering a practice-based component as a requirement in their curriculum.
Data extraction and synthesis

One reviewer screened GPH websites for eligibility and extracted data. Verification of data for accuracy and completeness was done on 10% of the sample by the second author. Data were compiled into an Excel file and were analysed to describe the duration, timing, credit, contact hours, preceptor requirements, prerequisites, objectives, deliverables and methods of evaluation of the practice-based component.

Out of the 108 GPH programmes screened, a total of 35 programmes were included. There was a significant variation in required practicum duration ranging from 4 to 16 weeks. Only 31% specifically outlined prerequisites to be completed before the initiation of the practicum. More than half (57%) had a published list of core competencies. A majority of practicum did not provide criteria for appropriate preceptors (63%) and their responsibilities (66%). All programmes listed assessment criteria however the majority (57%) did not specify if the practicum was graded or a for-credit component.

The integration of practical components into curricula is inconsistent. This research resulted in 14 recommendations intended to guide GPH practicum design. We propose that this study be used as a tool to spark a global dialogue about best practices in GPH education through the identification of common practices and opportunities for improvement.

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