Preceptor Handbook

All students majoring in the School of Public Health are required to complete a Field Study (internship) during their senior year. Below is an overview of the Field Study for supervisors and partnering agencies, businesses and organizations.

Field study/internship criteria

To ensure our students are learning and developing skills to prepare them for public health careers, a Field Study must meet the following criteria:

  • Placements. All placements must be approved prior to the student beginning their internship by having a site visit and organizational agreement on file.
  • Hours. The student must complete 100 hours (undergraduate) or 150 hours (graduate) of work for your agency, organization or business during the course of an academic semester.
  • Format. The internship must be health-related and if the student already works or volunteers for your organization, the field study activities must be different from their current and/or previous responsibilities.
  • Type. Independent research, observation and job shadowing are not allowed to account for more than ten percent (10%) of Field Study time.
  • Learning. The internship is a service learning activity. The student must do something of service to the host site (not an independent research project, for example). The student should be applying knowledge, skills and abilities learned in other Public Health courses at the University of Nevada, Reno.
  • Supervision. A relative or close friend may not supervise a student.
  • Skills. The student must gain knowledge and develop useful skills that can be applied to their future as a health professional.
  • Pay. Internships can be paid or unpaid.
  • Completion. Internships must be completed within the semester the student is taking the internship course.

What it means to be a field study supervisor

We ask supervisors to serve as mentors. Please help our students learn about professional setting expectations, both in terms of conduct and quality of work. Please have high expectations of our students, but ensure your expectations are appropriate for for the student’s respective program level (i.e. undergraduate vs graduate).

It is important to work with the student to identify a scalable project that benefits your organization, but can be completed in the allotted number of hours afforded to the student (i.e. 100 hours for undergraduate and 150 hours for graduate students). As stated previously, our students will work with you to develop either a project management plan or student learning contract, which they are then graded on its implementation. 

Serving as a Field Study Supervisor is a great opportunity to at once help your organization and further a student's academic career. Acting as a Field Study supervisor does require a commitment of time and effort, so make sure you are prepared for the task before agreeing to supervise a student.

Field Study supervisor responsibilities

Preceptors/supervisors are expected to be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Forms. Completing forms required by the University of Nevada, Reno to initiate the Field Study or have the appropriate individual at your site fill them out.
  • Expectations. Meeting with the student to outline expectations in terms of tasks, time lines, work schedule, frequency of meetings and communication, etc.
  • Organizational Information. Providing the student with information about your organization (e.g. history, programs, organizational structure, policies, etc.)
  • Project Management. Reviewing and monitoring the student's project management plan for accuracy.
  • Progress Tracking. Meeting with the student regularly to check their progress and providing feedback on their performance, etc. Frequency and mode of communication are between you and the student, but we recommend check-ins happen at least weekly.
  • Time Logs. Reviewing and approving student time logs within the Sonia system. This keeps the student accountable for the hours they worked.
  • Evaluations. Completing two brief evaluation surveys, a mid-term and final evaluation, of the student's professionalism and performance.
  • Student Project Presentations or Contract Meetings. Undergraduates do not typically have project presentations; however, graduate students may have a midterm presentation and a Student Learning Contract meeting with their internship team.

Addressing internship challenges

Most internship experiences are life changing and truly develop our students professionally as they enter their chosen career. On occasion, some students and preceptors do not find out until later that this internship is not a good organizational fit. And, as a result, both parties involved become increasingly unsatisfied with their experience. The Field Office within the School of Public Health is a resource to help you mitigate these situations. Keep in mind, the student did sign a student agreement which stipulates they can be removed from the internship for violating any intern site rules and regulations. Please notify the University immediately if problems start to arise. In turn, if the student feels they are not getting the site support they need to be successful in their internship, or they feel unsafe or uncomfortable, they are within their right to consult the University to be removed from their internship.

All situations are different and will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

We want all parties involved to be set-up for success, so the student learns and develops skills that serve them in their future careers and your organization receives help completing important projects for the community. 

Student's internship responsibilities

Students must have a Field Study site and supervisor confirmed early in the field studies process or they are not permitted to take their respective internship course. It is the student's responsibility to make contacts as early as possible and to be available to meet with you at your convenience. Please be aware that students are on short timelines and they will be eager to hear back from you promptly.

Students should take responsibility for staying in touch, keeping you informed of their hours, programs on tasks and requesting feedback. If your student does not meet these requirements, feel free to discuss your concerns with both the student and class instructor.

Students are responsible for ensuring their Field Study role meets course requirements and they are reporting hours appropriately (e.g. not including time spent on academic requirements).

Student academic assignment requirements

In addition to working for your organization, students must also complete the following academic requirements.

  • Supervisor Contact Information. Students must submit their supervisor contact information and required forms.
  • Project Management Plan or Student Learning Contract. This requirement should not be rushed. This  helps students understand what they will be doing before they start working. It is important to remember students are not permitted to work at their Field Study Site until this assignment is complete. 
  • Reports & Presentations. Students gain knowledge of their organization and health topic to advance their experience at the Field Study site. 

Student field study hours and academic assignments

As noted above, students are responsible for completing all class assignments. The time spent on the academic requirements does not count toward their hour commitment.

Students may not begin earning hours until they have submitted all required forms, signed by their preceptor/supervisor and completed all important academic assignments. We ask you respect the student's time and not ask them to complete tasks before these obligations have been met. Again, those hours will not count towards their hour requirement.

Setting up an internship/field study

The internship site must get approved by the University of Nevada, Reno before hosting an internship student. This is a University-wide policy. To be approved by the University, the following must be on file:

  • Site Self-Assessment Form. Fill out the Site Self-Assessment Form. This goes directly to our Risk Department for review. 
  • Organizational Agreement. This agreement is between your organization and the University of Nevada, Reno and is only filled out once your organization has agreed to host a student as part of their internship. This agreement ensures the host site is suitable for the learning experience of the student, has adequate and safe facilities, and the student will have an accessible and knowledgeable supervisor to guide their experience. It entails the roles and responsibilities of the hosting organization and the University of Nevada, Reno. It covers insurance and liability and ensures compliance with Federal, state, and local laws. This form must be submitted before the student begins their internship.
    • Feel free to send it to your legal department for review first. Or, if you have your own affiliation agreement, we can have our legal counsel review that in lieu of our organizational agreement, but it will expedite the process if you use our form. 
    • This form, upon signature, will be good for up to five years. An executed copy will be attached to your organizations Sonia profile.
    • View the updated organizational agreement or from the instructor of the internship course.

Contact Information

To obtain more information or schedule a site visit, please contact Melanie Flores at