Our students collaborate with communities across our city, state, region, and the world. Learn more about the practice opportunities and requirements for students in the School of Public Health and explore featured student practice experiences and projects.
Contact Janice North or specific departments for details pertaining to each practice experience.
Every MPH student is required to complete a practicum for their degree. The practicum is a planned, supervised, and evaluated field-based, organization-based experience under the guidance of an SPH Faculty Adviser and a Practicum Site Supervisor, requiring a minimum of 160 hours of work for a public health organization.
Example 1: Yaniv Rait, Health Systems and Population Health
During the COVID-19 pandemic, eviction moratoriums were set in place as a means to ensure protection for people who were out of work and unable to pay rent, but also as a means to slow the spread of COVID-19. Washington state had an eviction moratorium which was set to expire on June 30, 2021. Yaniv’s practicum project involved reviewing what three other municipalities were doing in the United States and Canada to protect tenants and help reduce a tidal wave of evictions expected at the end of the eviction moratorium. This review included synthesis of proposed policies and public support through evaluation of news articles supporting and opposing these policies. Yaniv’s practicum culminated in a final report provided to a district director for Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales, as well as a presentation to a Seattle housing workgroup.
Example 2: Erin Chase, Epidemiology
Erin worked with the HIV/STD Program at Public Health-Seattle & King County (PHSKC) to develop informational tools explaining HIV Tracing Efforts in King County. HIV Tracing involves identifying where HIV transmission is occurring using molecular surveillance data so that PHSKC staff may provide additional resources and support to people involved in HIV clusters. PHSKC expressed a need to develop materials to better explain the HIV Tracing process, its data protections, and what can and cannot be learned when analyzing this data. Erin helped to create a list of FAQs with answers for the PHSKC website, written materials to support HIV Tracing outreach efforts, and analyzed themes from qualitative interviews conducted with people interviewed through the HIV Tracing process.
Example 3: Lydia Haile, Global Health
In collaboration with local stakeholders, Lydia prepared evidence briefs on the subnational burden of disease for the National Data Management Center (NDMC) at the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, compiling relevant health metrics, analyzing their relevance to local health systems and programs, and standardizing estimates for comparison across surveillance systems. This information will be utilized to improve the completeness of reporting, indicator quality, and develop programs for intervention at the subnational level. Lydia presented and discussed drafts with NDMC staff and other stakeholders during the revision process through routine feedback sessions. In compiling this information, she liaised with members of the NDMC to consider the best usage of this information for policy development and program implementation. Lydia also presented to NDMC on analytical methods and health metrics methodology to contribute to knowledge sharing and capacity-building.
Example 4: Alene Chang, Public Health Genetics
For Alene’s practicum, she worked with Seattle & King County Public Health and the Public Health Sexual Health Clinic at Harborview to assess their partner services program in men who have sex with men (MSM). For this project, she worked with disease intervention specialists to assess the impact of partner services on the MSM community and disease transmission. Alene designed a program evaluation and assisted in deploying a REDCap survey and performing interviews and outreach. This work is still in-progress and she is working on data analysis and results for future publication that will be made accessible to those who have been diagnosed with syphilis and those working with vulnerable populations. Previously, Alene worked with community health clinics to deploy free and accessible sexual health services. Alene hopes to continue that work as a public health practitioner, partnering with marginalized communities and improving access to healthcare for all.
Example 5: Ivy Terry, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
For Ivy’s practicum, she co-led the development of a One Health Strategic plan for the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program within the Yopno-Uruwa-Som Landscape (YUS) in Papua New Guinea with the Woodland Park Zoo’s Senior Conservation Scientist, Dr. Lisa Dabek, and the Director of the UW Center for One Health Research, Dr. Peter Rabinowitz. Specifically, Ivy developed intervention goals, detailed strategies, a work plan timeline, and logic model for proposed intervention to improve One Health strategies in YUS. This project represents an intervention on a multi-level scale that prioritizes Indigenous knowledge in its implementation. She hopes to continue collaborating with the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program and her local YUS collaborators in the future as she expands upon her international work.
Example 6: Jenny Grunwald, Online MPH
For Jenny’s practicum, she worked with The African Society of Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) and Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND). Many African countries are implementing essential health packages; however, diagnostics are often missing or are not adequately covered in these documents. Twelve African countries expressed interest to the World Health Organization (WHO) to help develop National Essential Diagnostic Lists (NEDL). Working with members of ASLM and FIND, a landscape analysis was performed with a review of African countries’ national health plans, which included infectious and non-communicable diseases, for diagnostic testing and procurement. Gaps in national health plan documents and diagnostic testing were identified in order to start the process of developing NEDL for those countries.
Example 7: Lauren Sawyer, Nutritional Sciences
Lauren completed her practicum with the Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (NWTEC), which aims to promote health in tribal communities. Her project supported the Northwest Tribal Food Sovereignty Coalition (NTFSC), which coordinates food sovereignty knowledge and actions across Northwest tribal communities. Lauren assisted the policy workgroup with developing a policy platform to support tribal food sovereignty in the Northwest. She compiled a list of policy recommendations and reviewed another state’s Model Tribal Food and Agriculture Codes to determine which codes most closely align with the workgroup’s priority areas. Additionally, she participated in a facilitated dialogue with the workgroup to determine member definitions of food sovereignty, current efforts to promote food sovereignty, food sovereignty barriers, and ways to address these barriers through policy change or implementation. The code review highlighted three topics: food safety, production, and procurement. The dialogue resulted in emergent themes surrounding increased resource access, natural resource preservation, and food procurement.
View Lauren’s poster at: https://nutr.uw.edu/project/promoting-and-supporting-nw-tribal-food-sovereignty-through-policy/
The graduate-level capstone or final project is a cumulative experience in which students complete a substantial product with a significant analytic component that addresses a specific problem, issue or concern in their field of study. A cumulative experience must be in the form of either a capstone or thesis project in the final (second) year of students’ degree programs.
Example 1: Taquesha Dean, Community-Oriented Public Health Practice
Partnering with Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAMJ), Taquesha used a co-design framework to mobilize a group of Black adolescents with the goal of building a list of recommendations that BEAM could use to develop mental health programming for Black youth. Taquesha led the recruitment of co-design team members, who worked together to develop their own Mission, Vision, and Values, and went on to create a list of recommendations submitted to BEAM. Throughout the project, Taquesha served as project manager, task master, and mentor to the young people on the co-design team, and led them through the development of recommendations across four domains: lack Mental Health and Healing Justice (BMHHJ) Training Key Takeaways, Mental Health & Peer Support Recommendations, Youth Training & Engagement Recommendations, and General Tips for Engagement.
Example 2: Snowy Johnson, Community-Oriented Public Health Practice
Partnering with the Fred Hutch Office of Community Outreach and Engagement and the Urban Indian Health Institute, Snowy’s project resulted in the first ever formal partnership between the Fred Hutch and the Seattle Indian Health Board! Using geographic information system technology, Snowy developed a web-based map of cancer resources for American Indian/Alaska Native patients in King County. To ensure the resource map would be usable for resource navigators and community agencies, Snowy conducted a number of stakeholder interviews to understand their process for resource referrals. The resulting map offered community agencies a new tool in their services to and advocacy for American Indian/Alaska Native cancer patients, who benefit from culturally appropriate and responsive resources and providers.
Example 3: Chantel Garrett, Online MPH
Chantel worked with Allcove, a network of California-based integrated health clinics serving transition-age youth to increase the number of youth served and offer more equitable and timely access to care for youth with mild to moderate mental health concerns. The objective of the project was to define user needs and preferences for an Allcove app, enabling youth to connect with providers as concerns arise. Using a co-design framework, Chantel partnered with a group of youth advisors at the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Well-being to design an initial prototype for an Allcove app. Based upon a systematized literature review, focus group and survey, and using lean product development principles, the design team identified an app feature set that maximized the potential for user engagement while balancing operational feasibility for a stage-one minimum viable product.
Example 4: Kashika Arora, Online MPH
Kashika’s capstone report described the development of two products: an outline of modules for a pediatric-specific curriculum to train Community Health Workers (CHWs) who will be embedded in pediatric primary care settings, and one complete training module specific to supporting families whose children are on waitlists for mental health care. The curriculum development process involved four phases:
- Phase 1: stakeholder interviews to inform training needs and expectations.
- Phase 2: curriculum development in role-specific teams.
- Phase 3: seeking feedback on the curriculum from current CHWs and incorporating their input.
- Phase 4: piloting the training to the first pediatric-specific cohort of CHWs in Washington.
In Phase 1, Kashika conducted stakeholder interviews with a range of providers to inform critical elements of the curriculum, resulting in a list of necessary modules to be included in the curriculum’s foundational competencies as well as the role-specific curriculum for CHWs supporting families of school-aged children with mental health needs.
Example 5: Group Project, Nutrition
In this project, students worked with United Way of King County (UWKC) to evaluate and assess its UWKC-DoorDash Program, a food delivery service which delivers healthy meals to families and helps relieve the rising food insecurity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The UWKC-DoorDash Program also helps address some of the long-standing challenges of the traditional emergency food systems such as transportation,limited open hours and other barriers to accessing federal resources. Nutritional Sciences graduate students conducted an evaluation of their current food delivery service.View the full report at: https://nutr.uw.edu/project/united-way-of-king-county-doordash-delivery-program-analysis-and-recommendations/ (Group Project, Nutrition)
Example 6: Tyler Matayoshi, Masters of Health Administration
Tyler’s project was designed to improve behavioral health access within MultiCare, which was centered around 3 “pillars” of MultiCare’s access problems:
- A patient’s ability to access care
- Remaining in contact with MultiCare between their first referral and first appointment
- Ensuring patients were referred to the right level of care
Over the course of the project’s life, Tyler and their capstone partner interviewed MultiCare’s senior leadership to understand the barriers patients were facing, followed by an environmental analysis and literature review. This work led to recommendations, from ticketing systems for self-scheduling to AI chat bots that could expand access to therapy.
Example 7: Group Project, Biostatistics MS
BIOSTat MS students partnered with Seattle Housing Authority and the King County Housing Authorities (PHAs) to identify methodologies and analyze public housing data in order to better understand why people leave public housing and the impact those reasons have on long-term housing outcomes. This information is key to providing appropriate benefits and services to help people become more self-sufficient and transition out of public housing.
Example 8: Zakary Reimann, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences MS
Zakary was part of a team of six industrial hygienists based in Salem, OR, this summer with his internship with SAIF Corporation, Oregon’s not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company. His main job was to conduct sampling for particulates, noise, mold and other chemicals. He was also working on a project to incorporate video exposure monitoring into SAIF Corporation site visit inspections.Workers were outfitted with a GoPro camera while Zakary’s team simultaneously monitored particulate concentrations. This new tool served as an effective way to visually demonstrate when exposures occur and what workers were doing at the time of exposure.This tool will be useful for employers and policyholders to identify and mitigate employee exposures.
Example 9: Yoni Rodriguez, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences MS
Yoni Rodriguez worked with the Washington State Department of Health to investigate hundreds of pesticide illness reports, many of which were related to pesticide spray drift. Drift is the movement of pesticide aerosols through the air from an area of application to any unintended site and accounts for up to half of the pesticide-related illnesses among agricultural workers in the United States. Washington state requires pesticide applicators to record wind direction and wind speed, usually with a handheld anemometer. However, the state does not specify a standardized method for measuring these variables. This project explored the concept of "wind ramping" as a tool for predicting drift-prone conditions. The end goal was to develop a tool that alerts applicators about drift-prone wind conditions to minimize pesticide exposure and improve the practice of pesticide application.
The undergraduate capstone or final project is a cumulative course-based service learning experience that can be taken in either one or two quarters and is offered in some capacity all quarters.
Example 1: Tiffany Van and Simran Dhanoa, Health Informatics & Health Information Management
The objective of this capstone project, conducted at Evergreen Treatment Services in Seattle, was to design and evaluate an audit process for assessing organizational benchmarks to improve patient outcomes. Evergreen Treatment Services provides a variety of innovative and effective addiction and social services that aim to transform the lives of individuals in our community. A Health Informatics and Health Information Management program faculty member served as the adviser for a team of two students engaged in the project, while Evergreen’s Director of Health Information Management served as an on-site supervisor. The student team brought expertise in workflow process evaluation, data management, and knowledge of standard performance measures designed to provide purchasers, such as insurance plans, and consumers, with information they need for reliable comparison of health plan performance.
Example 2: Group Project, Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health
The objective of this undergraduate food systems capstone project was to design a community engagement with Seattle’s Food Action Plan, which is currently being updated. Two teams of capstone students partnered with the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment to develop recommendations on the public engagement process for the final update of Seattle’s Food Action Plan. Students assessed how food system-related issues regarding racial and social inequities in Seattle can be effectively highlighted with social media as well as how to include communities most impacted by food system inequities. Students also researched different cities’ food action plans to increase public engagement.
Example 3: Class Project, Public Health-Global Health Major
The objective of this undergraduate PHGH capstone project was to collect stories of Asian Pacific Americans experiences of resistance and resilience during May 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students gathered oral histories of Asian Pacific American community leaders, healthcare workers, activists, and business owners living in Seattle’s Chinatown (CID). These stories document Asian American hate directed to these communities as well as their stores of resistance and resilience as they engaged in a variety of mutual aid projects. These oral histories were featured in a community-curated exhibit called COMMUNITY SPREAD: HOW WE FACED A PANDEMIC.
Example 4: Greta Gunning and Belen Salguero, Environmental Health Major
Greta interned with the Indian Health Service in New Mexico last summer through the Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program. For her independent project, she worked with the Animal Control and Welfare committee in Taos Pueblo to collect and analyze community’s feedback on animal control issues. https://deohs.washington.edu/hsm-blog/prioritizing-relationships-public-health
Belen interned with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment last summer through the National Environmental Public Health Internship Program. Her team created maps using ArcGIS to look at the relationships among enteric illness, retail health violations and socioeconomic status, and summarized their results and presented them to the entire department at the end of the summer. https://deohs.washington.edu/hsm-blog/ensuring-respect-and-support-marginalized-communities
Students in the Doctor of Global Health Leadership and Practice program complete a practice doctoral meta-project incorporating all prior practice products, with integrative analysis and reflection. They are expected to complete an oral presentation of their doctoral meta-project and disseminate their work.
Several programs offer additional opportunities to help students gain public health practice experiences.
Several graduate programs offer or require additional practice experiences specific to their field to help students gain hands-on experiences and establish connections in the job market.
Example 1: Muna Hassan and Elizabeth Cox, Health Systems and Population Health
Through their involvement on the Student Epidemic Action Leaders (SEAL) team, Muna and Elizabeth deployed to a local county health department to support agency staff with contact tracing following a tuberculosis exposure in a workplace. Both students received training in contact tracing during the SEAL course in Winter 2022 and then signed up immediately to assist with this response. After deploying, they received additional training and instruction from the local health department managing the investigation, were briefed on the specifics of the exposure, and then worked their way through lists of contacts who may have been exposed. Due to the contagious nature of tuberculosis, contact tracing is incredibly important for both early detection and controlling transmission. Muna and Elizabeth provided timely, comprehensive support to the public health agency and the larger community where the exposure occurred.
Example 2: Eliza Ramsey, Epidemiology
Eliza worked with the Washington Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence (WA CoE)--a CDC-funded collaboration between the University of Washington and the Washington State Department of Health--to learn more about the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on our broader public health systems. To investigate the impact on foodborne disease surveillance and response specifically, she and the WA CoE worked closely with the Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence to design and conduct a pilot study. From question development and survey design to key informant interviews and collecting outbreak and case metrics, Eliza was an integral part of a successful multi-state pilot that will now be expanded to other states in the coming year.
Example 3: Sandra Mata-Diaz and Alyssa Suarez, Epidemiology
The ongoing COVID-19 response creates significant barriers to routine foodborne outbreak interviewing and Sandra and Alyssa have stepped in to help fill that gap. Since June, they've been working closely with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to remotely conduct foodborne outbreak interviews from Washington state. Both students are part of the Student Epidemic Action Leaders (SEAL) Team and are helping with a new partnership between the Washington Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence and CDPH. After completing initial training in applied epidemiology via the SEAL course, both students received additional instruction on foodborne outbreak interviewing from CDPH. They now meet weekly with the California team and conduct interviews with California residents as needed. Their work has been incredibly well-received and both students will continue to be involved in this novel approach to interagency, interstate capacity building through the next year.