Preceptor Guidelines

The sponsoring organization agrees to provide a preceptor to oversee the student's internship. The preceptor should have expertise in assigned project areas, experience and status within the organization, and an interest and competence in supervising and mentoring. As a mentor, the preceptor shares organizational values, experiences, and contacts with the student to facilitate their professional growth. Each student is assigned a field consultant from the Center for Public Health Practice & Leadership (CPHPL) who assists the student in identifying professional and career objectives, clarifying learning objectives, and identifying appropriate internship sites. The preceptor works in conjunction with the field consultant to make sure that students have a fulfilling and a successful public health practice internship experience.

Internship Overview

The internship is an integral part of the MPH program. Students are required to work 480 hours full-time for 12 weeks in the summer following their first year of classes. The intern also works with the preceptor and his or her field consultant to develop an Internship Agreement that matches his or her learning objectives to the needs of their host organization. The intern helps to organize a meeting during the middle of the internship where the field consultant visits the site. The intern writes a final report and completes 2 final assignments to meet his or her academic requirement.

Role of the Preceptor

The role of the preceptor is one of mentor and/or supervisor for the student during the internship. The preceptor may or may not be the intern's direct supervisor on the project(s); however, we ask that all preceptors:

  • Provide an orientation to the organization
  • Provide access to individuals and meetings to assist in providing a context for the work performed
  • Meet with the student at least once per week
  • Provide opportunities to explore career options and other skill areas through informational interviews within and outside of your office
  • Provide regular professional feedback on progress, both strengths and weaknesses
  • Secure a work space and needed resources to be able to successfully complete assigned work and projects
  • Participate in an internship meeting ideally in the middle of internship or a site visit by the field consultant to review and assess progress in achieving work assignments and learning objectives (including review of personal and professional growth and development), identify and discuss learning issues, strengths, and challenges; resource needs which have emerged during the internship; and update the Internship Agreement to reflect any changes
  • Complete an evaluation of the student intern and internship process

We have found that people with an MPH degree or related advanced degree are the most effective preceptors for our students. CPHPL actively seeks alumni and professionals in the field who have the teaching and mentoring skills needed in preceptors. It is important to us that the person has the desire, willingness, time, and aptitude for the work. We have found that a strong preceptor makes a difference in the experience and professional development of our students.

Timeline and Milestones for Preceptors

  • November-January: Develop and place the internship job announcement for students on the SPH job site. (Deadline is January 31.) Secure funding for the internship.
  • February: Review student applicants and select which ones your organizations would like to interview.
  • March: Conduct interviews with student applicants and extend offers by the end of March. Please allow students at least 2 weeks to accept or decline offers.
  • April: Students and preceptors have until the end of April to confirm internships.
  • May-June: Identify and secure a workstation for your intern at your job site. Commence the internship process by officially welcoming the intern and introducing them to appropriate staff at the job site. Meet with your intern and complete the Internship Agreement within the first two weeks of the beginning of the internship.
  • July: Participate in the midpoint review with the Field Consultant.
  • August: Complete the preceptor Evaluation of Student and Internship Process and review the completed evaluation with your intern before the end of his/her internship.
  • September: Attend the preceptor and Student Recognition event on campus.

Frequently Asked Questions by Potential Preceptors

When are student interns available?

Students interview in March and select a site by the end of April. Internships typically begin by the last week of May or first week of June and continue through mid-August. Some students who choose internships in the Bay Area start before the end of May. With approval from their field consultant in limited cases, some students may opt to work part-time over a longer period of time. More than 60 percent of our students who do a local internship continue to work with their organizations during the academic year.

Does a student expect to be paid?

Yes. Most internships are paid. Pay varies significantly by the type of organization, project, and geographic location. In 2018, the summer monthly compensation that MPH students received ranged from $2,400 to $21,600 ($15 to $45 per hour). Considering the high Bay Area cost of living, academic program costs, and students’ professional background/work experience we strive for students to get paid.

What about insurance coverage for interns?

Student health insurance provides coverage during the summer months.

Need more information?

For more details see the 2019 Preceptor Guidelines.