Internship Preceptor Handbook

All students majoring in Community Health Sciences (CHS) 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 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 Community Health Sciences 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 must be unpaid for undergraduates.
  • Completion. Internships must be completed within the semester the student is taking the CHS 494 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 a student at the undergraduate level.

It is important to work with the student to identify a scalable project that benefits your organization, but can be completed in the allotted 100 hours of work. As stated previously, our students will work with you to develop a project management plan, 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 student's time logs and communicating approval of Field Study hours to the CHS 494 instructor. This keeps the student accountable for the hours they work.
  • Evaluations. Completing two brief evaluation surveys, a mid-term and final evaluation, of the student's professionalism and performance.
  • Student Project Presentations. Attending student project presentations at the CHS 494 Film Festival.
  • Final Presentations. Helping the student complete their final poster and film presentation by providing access to photos or other visual materials, or helping arrange opportunities to take photos/videos.

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 Nevada Public Health Training Center 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 semester or they are not permitted to take the CHS 494 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 time lines 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 CHS 494 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. This assignment counts towards a significant portion of the course grade and students should not rush this project. This projects helps them 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.
  • Internship Poster Presentation. Students develop a conference poster that outlines the main activities of their internship site and Field Study project that links to individual career goals.
  • Final Film Presentation. Students create a short film that shows their Field Study activities, the skills and knowledge they developed and demonstrates their learning outcomes. 

Student Field Study Hours and Academic Assignments

As noted above, students are responsible for completing assignments that are submitted to the CHS 494 instructor. The time spent on the academic requirements does not count toward the 100-hour commitment. According to University of Nevada, Reno policy, students may only earn hours during the academic semester in which they are enrolled. That means students may not earn hours over winter break or during the summer, unless completing CHS 494 during summer session.

Students may not begin earning hours until they have submitted all required forms, signed by their preceptor/supervisor and completed an important academic assignment. 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 the 100-hour requirement.

Setting up an Internship/Field Study

The host organization is responsible for having two documents on file with the Risk and legal team at the University prior to a student starting their internship: Community Site Visit and Organizational Agreement.

Community Site Visit

The University requires all organizations to undergo an initial site visit before a student begins an internship. We want to know our students are in a safe and educational environment while they learn what it is like to be in the health field. We also use the site visit as an opportunity to get to know each other -- organization to organization -- so we can ensure a compatible fit for all parties involved. The site visit must be conducted and signed by a Field Studies Coordinator at the Nevada Public Health Training Center and, once executed, will be good for three years. 

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. Typically, the form is submitted after the site visit, but before the student begins the internship. However, some organizations like to complete and submit it the same day the site visit is conducted. 

This form, upon signature, will also be good for up to three years.

Contact Information

To obtain more information or schedule a site visit, please contact Melanie Flores at melanief@unr.edu