Field Training Information for Site Mentors

Dean's Welcome Message to Site Mentors

On behalf of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, I would like to thank you for supporting our Master of Public Health program by mentoring our students in their field training experience. Site mentors play a key role in assisting, advising, training and evaluating students throughout their field experiences. We know from our students that such experiences are viewed as a crucial element of their education. We also know that mentoring a student is a commitment in time and effort, and we appreciate your willingness to share your expertise and knowledge to help train our students as future public health professionals. This opportunity is transformative for so many of our students. We’ve heard from many mentors of our MPH students that they make significant contributions to the work of their agency, as well. We anticipate that you will find value in having our MPH students contribute to achieving your organization’s goals.

We aim to make this experience a valuable one for you, your organization and our students, and look forward to strengthening our partnership during and following the field training experience.

Thank you, again. With your support as a mentor, our Master of Public Health students will gain invaluable knowledge, skills and experience in public health practice that they can take with them in their future careers.

Sincerely,

Jean Wactawski-Wende, PhD
Dean, School of Public Health and Health Professions
State University of New York at Buffalo

Field Training Overview

Field training is a cornerstone of the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program, providing students with diverse public health experiences vital to their professional growth. Students gain valuable hands-on learning opportunities unavailable in a classroom setting. The purpose of field training is for students to demonstrate public health competencies, through knowledge and skills acquired during the academic portion of their program, in a practical setting under an agency’s mentorship and guidance.

Field Training Hours

Students must complete 120 hours of field training in a semester, but may choose to complete up to 240 hours of field training. There is no prescribed field training schedule as long as the required hours are completed. It may be useful to schedule students regularly, such as 10 or 20 hours per week. There is no expectation of student compensation for their field training experience. 

Site Mentor Responsibilities

To the extent feasible and appropriate, site mentors will: 

  • Provide student with on site supervision and support.
  • Provide an overview of the public health program/setting of the field training site (could include, for example, an organizational chart; program goals, objectives, and activities; methods of surveillance; target population; copies of routine reports; and copies of ongoing research studies).
  • Explain work rules and procedures, make resources available, assist in establishing access to the various data systems that might be used by the student.
  • Identify specific projects and/or activities for the student to complete.
  • Provide confidentiality training to the student, reinforcing the importance of adhering to confidentiality requirements and the need for students to ‘de-identify’ or remove all information that could be used to identify an individual when discussing or documenting field training. If a field training site has specific policies related to protected health information and confidentiality, we anticipate that students will be trained in these policies at the field training site.
  • Regularly meet with the student to provide teaching, constructive feedback and other guidance.
  • Introduce student to colleagues and agency executives when possible.
  • Provide student with opportunity to participate in and/or observe interprofessional collaboration activities when possible.
  • Include student in internal and external meetings as appropriate.
  • Allow student to shadow mentor when appropriate.
  • Provide readings/articles and resources helpful to student.
  • If required, establish a funding mechanism for travel and other expenses.
  • If required, provide secretarial support.
  • Evaluate student performance at the conclusion of the field training experience.

Site Mentor Criteria

The minimal criterion for a site mentor is that they possess at least one year of relevant work experience or adequate formal education as determined by the MPH assistant training director.

Required Documentation

There are four electronic field training forms, a daily timesheet log and a field training report that students are required to complete. The student is responsible for initiating all of these items.

For additional information regarding field training, review the Guide for Sites and Mentors.