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Applied Practical Experiences

Students at DSPH don’t just learn – they do

Public health practice – the “doing” of public health – is a key component of the MPH curriculum. Students gain both broad and deep exposures to hands-on public health work through applied practical experiences in the first year of their program.

The objectives of the Depth and Breadth practical experiences prepare students to:

  • Integrate theory and research with practice;
  • Apply public health concepts and methods to solve real world problems;
  • Gain new and enhance existing knowledge and skills; and
  • Widen the scope of professional activities, relationships, and networks.

Depth

The depth experience constitutes a supervised, hands-on public health opportunity within a public health practice setting alongside one of our community partners. This 120-hour experience may be in the form of an internship or a project.

Alton Reid

Student experiences

Alton Reid
MPH'17
Reaching People Where They Live

“Everything in life is interconnected, it’s a balance.”

Alton Reid stumbled upon the Home Preservation Initiative, a project run by a group of nonprofit organizations –Habitat for Humanity, People’s Emergency Center, Dornsife SPH and others – which measures the impact of housing repairs on neighborhoods, people, and their health. “It’s a blessing from God that I walked by and saw them, and said ‘Can I do this?’” In a training session on how to conduct qualitative research interviews, Reid learned that “giving a little bit of kindness” makes a big difference in how people present themselves and whether they trust you. “You’re the outsider – and that understanding will take you a long way: It’s not my neighborhood, but I must treat it and the people in it with respect.” Reid recalls a woman who had a carbon monoxide leak. “Her daughters are disabled and can’t get around quickly,” he says. “After the repairs, they had railings that were helpful to them, and the mom and father.” Another person explained how home repairs had helped with neuropathy, by providing reliable air conditioning and heat. Growing up in New York City and Jamaica, Reid recognized early the existence of housing disparities. “Just a couple of blocks from Drexel, neighborhoods are drastically different…People are very aware of what’s going on in their neighborhood.” Reid’s future holds medical school or getting a PhD then opening a clinic to help people – though he’s learned that health doesn’t happen in the doctor’s office. “It’s very interesting to see things you take for granted affecting people’s health: it can be a broken sidewalk, or an abandoned house with a tree growing inside of it, and the rot affecting houses on both sides of the blight.

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Ann Henderer

Student experiences

Ann Henderer
MPH'17
Trauma Informed Yoga

“I want to synthesize my love for yoga, and my desire to work in public health on a larger scale and make an impact.”

She first envisioned a career as a physician, but a volunteer experience in Cambodia, watching a teacher instruct poor children about health changed Ann Henderer’s career path. “I realized I wanted to help groups of people, instead of just one individual at a time,” she says. Henderer first completed Drexel’s Global Health Certificate Program, and in the spring finished year one of her MPH studies. This summer, she combined her love for travel and public health with another passion: yoga, which she took up a decade ago for stress relief as an undergrad. “My yoga practice kept me sane in the midst of studying and tests – and it seemed a natural extension to tie in what I’d seen so much benefit from to help others,” she says. Armed with a certificate as a yoga instructor and support from the Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children (FIMRC), in July Henderer was off to Peru, known as a center for traditional medicine rooted in local culture. “I’m doing my practicum in a yoga program with incarcerated Peruvian women that’s been very successful, but the teacher hasn’t been formally trained,” she says. “So I’m going to train her so she can teach in a trauma-informed manner ... and I’m developing a training manual on trauma-sensitive yoga, too.” The idea, Henderer says, is to counteract the fight-or-flight stress response by encouraging cues to get grounded: to feel the mat, to come back into your body, and repair the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems in the brain.

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Breadth

Students in the MPH program often engage in occasional public health practice activities including lectures, volunteerism, or community service, separate from structured longer-term experiences. Tracking Breadth activities gives students the ability to capture the range of their community and practice engagement throughout their time at Drexel.

Students document at least one practice activity each month during their time in the program, including the academic year and in the summer between their first and second year.

Examples of breadth activities:

  • Lectures or presentations within or external to Drexel including, but not limited to, DSPH Population Health Spotlight, Urban Health Collaborative speakers, College of Physicians Public Health Grand Rounds, or other public health practice-related events.
  • Drexel-sponsored community service activities or volunteerism that one engages in on their own time.

Finding an Opportunity

The Symplicity database houses a variety of potential student experiences, including those that satisfy Breadth and Depth. Students should register with their Drexel email address to be granted access.

Students may also find these experiences by connecting with faculty members, professional or personal contacts, or other independent research on opportunities.

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