Experiential Learning for Students

Field experience is essential for students to succeed in their future careers. It provides students firsthand experience with real-world situations that cannot be taught in a classroom. The WVU Public Health Training Center wants to ensure that students have the best opportunities possible to better equip them for their future careers. 

Students are assigned field placements in a range of locations - from local health departments to community-based organizations - which can count toward their required Practice-Based Experience.

Student Experiences

Katelyn Bennett

Katelyn Bennett

Katelyn earned her MPH in Health Policy, Leadership and Management, graduating May 2017 from the WVU School of Public Health. She completed her PHTC-sponsored placement with the West Virginia Center for Nursing. The title of her project was “Workforce Data Regarding Renewal of License for Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses.”

Emily MorganEmily Morgan

Emily graduated from the WVU School of Public Health as a member of the Epidemiology Department. She completed her PHTC- sponsored training at the Center for Threat Preparedness in the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health in Charleston, WV. The title of her project was “Health Command and Emergency Response During and Following a Natural Disaster.”

“Looking back on my two months at the Center for Threat Preparedness, I honestly could not have asked for a better placement. I am so grateful that everything worked out for me to be able to work there! It was a unique experience that I don’t think could have been replicated anywhere else. After working there, I feel confident in my career choice, better informed to make job decisions after graduation, and well-equipped to work in the field of emergency preparedness.”

Nirmala ThapaNirmala Thapa

Nirmala graduated from the WVU School of Public Health as part of the Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences Department. She completed her PHTC sponsored placement at the Monongalia County Health Department in Morgantown, WV. The title of her project was “Mosquito-borne diseases and surveillance in Monongalia County with an emphasis in Zika education and response.”

“I gained all three competencies listed in my work plan agreement… This hands on experience in a public health setting was invaluable in helping me develop a deeper understanding in my career field and feel my reasoning for becoming a public health professional.”

John Yauch

 John Yauch

John worked on the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES) in which Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was awarded funding by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials to partner with state health departments. These state health departments conducted cost effectiveness analyses of three childhood obesity interventions.

“Integration of the research-based academic component of the real-world, West Virginia specific applications has perhaps been the most fulfilling piece of this project. Through this experience, I have gained knowledge in public health competencies and cost-effectiveness analysis, which has contributed greatly in making me a better-rounded public health professional.”

Zach VanceZach Vance

Zach Vance, MPH is a native of southern West Virginia who found his passion for public health and policy when he learned about primary prevention. He completed his internship by working in the six rural counties served by West Virginia’s only regional health department. His poster project was selected for presentation at the annual West Virginia Public Health Association conference; subsequently, he was also awarded a scholarship to attend the National Rural Health Policy Institute. His interests continue in policy analysis and population health and he is employed by the Center for Quality Outcomes at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV.

“My internship with the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department was invaluable to my career as a public health professional. Having the opportunity to experience how a local health department operates and works to make an impact on the surrounding community solidified my reasoning for choosing my career path. The experience I gained during my internship cannot be matched!”

Ciara RukseCiara Rukse

Ciara Rukse interned with the Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement (KCCHI) assessing community needs and identifying the social determinants of health that impact the issues of substance abuse, diabetes, and obesity in Kanawha County, WV. Her work helped inform the selection of evidence-based interventions for a Draft Community Health Improvement Plan published by KCCHI. She believes that a focus group participant succinctly summarizes many of the issues in Kanawha County, WV with the quote, “People know the problem but need solutions to manage the long term.”

“Through the practice-based experience I became more adept at qualitative and quantitative data collection methods and identifying adaptable and successful community based health interventions.”