Preparing for Applied Practice

What should students know before starting their Applied Practice?

  • Applied Practice provides different types of agreement opportunities between students, academic advisors, and preceptors. Previously, students were expected to meet a minimum number of hours, limited to one site. Contrarily, Applied Practice offers students the possibility to explore their own interests in a more versatile fashion.
  • Applied Practice can be completed through a combination of experiences. This means some of the competencies may be completed among various sites, or all competencies may be completed at a singular site. This flexibility provides increased opportunities for networking, contact and relationship building, and a greater understanding of the various types of Public Health work settings.
  • The number of hours to fulfill the Applied Practice are not predetermined or pre-established, except if its indicated by the academic program. The time commitment at a site or organization is determined by:
    • The nature of the competencies
    • The number of competencies assigned to a site
    • Nature, purpose, and goals of the products
    • Student’s ability to demonstrate the application or practice of the public health competencies
    • Academic program requirements

    In addition, an Applied Practice experience at a site with 1 to 3 competencies may require less time to fulfill than an experience with 3 to 5 competencies to fulfill.

  • All MPH students must complete their Applied Practice requirements while enrolled in their degree program. Prior work/volunteer activities or coursework that begins before the Learning agreement is approved will not be accepted. Waivers are not accepted.
  • Students work with their preceptor and faculty advisor to ensure the Applied Practice benefits the practice site and complies with the student academic requirements.
  • Dual/Joint degree students (e.g., MPH/JD, MPH/MSW) must consult with their programs to determine if the Applied Practice can fulfill requirements for both degree programs.
  • The Applied Practice may be completed at the student’s current workplace, if applicable, but must begin after the learning agreement is approved.
  • An Applied Practice can be paid or unpaid.

Preparing for Applied Practice

Increasing awareness and sensitivity about other cultures is one of the many benefits Applied Practice offers. This is an exciting opportunity to learn something new and connect with people on multiple levels, all of which will lead to a richer experience that strengthens the student’s professional skills.

Whether or not students choose to address the specific CEPH Foundational competencies related to cultural competence during their Applied Practice, learning cultural sensitivity and humility is necessary for all public health professionals.

Driven by evidence documenting the relationship between cultural competence and health disparities, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and the Association of American Medical Colleges worked with a panel of scholars to develop best practices.

The associations categorized ­three domains. For example:


  • Define cultural diversity including language, sexual identity, age, race, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomics, and education
  • Identify cultural factors that contribute to overall health and wellness.
  • Describe the influence of culture, familial history, resiliency, and genetics on health outcomes
  • Examine factors that contribute to health disparities, particularly social, economic, environmental, health systems, and access


  • Identify one’s own assets and learning needs related to cultural competence
  • Incorporate culture as a key component of patient, family and community history
  • Communicate in a culturally competent manner with patients, families and communities


  • Demonstrate willingness to apply the principles of cultural competence.
  • Appreciate how cultural competence contributes to the practice of medicine and public health.
  • Appreciate that becoming culturally competent involves life-long learning.

Students may ask preceptors the following questions to help demonstrate cultural sensitivity:

  • Describe the site climate. Is the organization team-oriented or do individuals work independently; What is the dress code? How are people addressed (by their professional titles or by their first name)?
  • What information is relevant and important to know about the community the organization serves? How might I be perceived by the community and do you have some suggestions on how I can make strong connections with them? How can I prepare for this experience? Are there any books, articles, websites or programs I should become familiar before I begin? What are some cultural norms that might be specific to the community I will be working with?
  • What might help me serve this community most appropriately? For example, are there any dietary restrictions, body language or vocabulary best practice?
© 2015 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy Statement