240794 Not All Placements are Created NCHEC-Equal: The challenge of crafting undergraduate internships to align with NCHEC competencies

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 11:10 AM

Susan M. Radius, PhD, MCHES , Professor, Health Science Department, Towson University, Towson, MD
Theresa K. Jackson, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Science, Towson University, Towson, MD
Meghan Bailey, MHS, CHES , Department of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD
NCHEC competencies capture substantive and performance expectations to be addressed through the marriage of education and experience. For entry level, Bachelor's trained health educators, the classroom ideally is complemented with an internship experience. While enhancing students' preparedness, are internships responsive to NCHEC competencies? Are all placements created NCHEC equal? The purpose of this presentation is to explore the relationship between the type of internship placement and sites' ability to provide experiences consistent with NCHEC entry level competencies. Data derive from approximately 100 students and >35 internship sites representing diverse settings (voluntary organizations, hospitals, health departments, etc.) over a five-year period. Relative to NCHEC competencies, preliminary analyses suggest that undergraduate internships are most likely to maximize exposure to planning and implementing health education efforts. Regardless of organizational type, such experiences are unlikely to meet NCHEC competencies regarding evaluation, advocacy, grant writing, data analysis, preparation of data collection instruments or strategic planning. Only infrequently did undergraduate internships entail preparation of grant proposals. Not all students possess the same skill sets when seeking placements, yet many preparation programs require all students to complete an internship. Internships sites, in turn, are selected for many reasons beyond furthering students' education: to foster town-gown relations; to establish potential employers; etc. Undergraduate preparation programs must function in the real world. If those programs embrace NCHEC competencies as the barometer for professional performance, selection of internship sites for their responsiveness to competencies is a criterion to enter into the internship site selection and placement process.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1. Differentiate among internship placement sites in terms of their ability to provide NCHEC competency-linked experiences. 2. Evaluate constraints of undergraduate preparation programs in placing students within productive, available and NCHEC-responsive internship placements. 3. Discuss implications for undergraduate preparation programs in marrying classroom preparation with NCHEC-responsive internship opportunities.

Keywords: Health Education, Professional Preparation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am actively engaged in undergraduate preparation, have a hsitory of research on this topic, and an MCHES.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.