International Field Experience

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Field Experience Team
Somer Burke, MPH, CHES, CPH
International Field Experience Administrator

Getting Started

International Field Experience is a practicum that is open to all College of Public Health students, and is mandatory for students in the Global Health Practice concentration. It is considered an important part of the academic curriculum, serving as a structured and significant educational experience. The International Field Experience takes place in an agency, institution, or community in a developing country, and under the supervision of the Preceptor and the guidance of the student’s Faculty Mentor.
The International Field Experience provides the opportunity to integrate theory and practice in an international public health work environment. The student contributes to a community’s resources and to the solution of a public health problem while developing personal confidence and leadership skills as a public health professional.

Students considering an International Field Experience should have strong communication skills to cut across language, cultural, and educational barriers; be flexible with different cultural norms and hospitality practices, have tolerance for a reduced standard of living, less personal privacy, and be able to live without many of the modern conveniences that we take for granted in the United States.

Before embarking in their International Field Experience (IFE), students must complete the College Foundational Courses, or other course(s) as determined by their Faculty Mentor.

Students contemplating and International Field Experience are expected to learn about the host country in matters concerning: safety, health, legal, political, cultural, religious, gender, etiquette and environmental considerations.

With any international work or travel there are risks and challenges not encountered in the United States. The landscape of international settings can change quickly. Therefore, students are expected to be flexible and communicative throughout their International Field Experience. Students are ultimately responsible for educating themselves about the risks in traveling and preparing for possible adverse events.

Students anticipating an International Field Experience should begin planning one (1) year prior to departure, and should have their IFE plans finalized 1 month prior to departure.

  • What do I want to learn?
  • Do I want field research, community health, or lab-based experience? 
  • When do I want to go? 
  • Which organizations or research institutions currently work in my desired geographic area? 
  • Is there a specific type of demographic population that I want to work with? 
  • How will my selection of focused electives help me prepare for my Field Experience? 
  • How will this experience meet my short and long-term professional goals? 
  • How much do I know about the country where I want to go? 
  • What are the gender roles and sensitive issues as they relate to cultural norms where I will work? 
  • What steps do I need to take to develop my language skills; what languages are spoken in my IFE placement? 
  • How much am I willing to spend, and what level of financial assistance might I need?