CHS 494: Field Studies in Public Health

CHS 494 is designed to be a culminating portfolio development and service learning experience for students during their senior year. Through this experience, students will work through the three core components of knowledge, action, and reflection that are essential to service learning. The course will allow students to complete a 100-hour unpaid/paid internship in the local community.

Additionally, this course will allow students to build a personal career portfolio that will be useful to effectively network in order to secure a job and to launch a professional career. Finally, the course will incorporate seminar speakers who will provide stories from the field and give a "call to action" to future public health professionals.

Finally, this course is mostly web-based. Virtual classrooms have been set-up throughout the semester to give students opportunities to ask questions and to review course content. Spring and fall courses may require at least one in-person day as part of the Health Professions Community Panel Expo. See course schedule for more details.

Frequently asked questions

  • What steps should I take to find an internship?
    1. Prepare. Update your resume, tailor your cover letter, prepare for the interview, etc.
    2. Research. Think about the career you hope to pursue and the experience you will need to get there and then start looking for an internship.
    3. Site approval. You don't want to line-up an internship and find out later that the site is not an approved University of Nevada, Reno internship site. Get ahead of the game and find out if the sites you have chosen are approved sites.
      • Note: If you can see the site in Sonia, the site is approved. If you don't you will have to submit the Site through Sonia for approval. See Step 4 of your Sonia Student User Guide. Also, contact your instructor immediately to let them know your site potentially needs to be vetted for approval so they can move this process along as quickly as possible.
    4. Contact the site. Now that you have identified your top 3-5 sites, now it's time to reach out and line-up some interviews. It sounds old-fashioned, but phone calls can go a long way and be sure to follow-up with an email if possible. Treat it as if you were trying to get a job. Who knows, this could turn into a job if you play your cards right.
      • Be sure to tailor the internship solicitation template to use for each site you pursue. Keep in mind most of our sites take students every semester and they can tell if you tailored this document or not. Make sure you make it unique to you and your skillsets.
      • Make sure you're sending your resume with any email correspondence you have with potential sites.
      • Have your "elevator speech" prepared
      • Be able to tell your potential Preceptor who you are, your affiliation with the University, the class you will be taking as part of this internship, the internship timeline, the experience you hope to gain and highlight your strengths and added value to their organization.
      • Prepare for that interview
    5. Choose. You chose five great internship sites, interviewed at three, and were accepted to two. Now what? Well, now you choose which site will ultimately be the most rewarding for you and your career goals.
      • Don't waste anybody's time, once you narrowed it down to the best internship for you, call them and accept the opportunity. Be sure to thank them and line-up a time to meet to talk about your internship project, expectations, and timeline of activities.
    6. Thank you. Be sure to send thank you emails or letters to every site you interviewed at and inform the sites you didn't choose of your final decision. This will allow that site to move on to the next person on their list.

  • When can I begin my internship?

    You will not be able to start your internship immediately. There are a series of "checks" you must complete before you can begin your internship. Here are six checks required before you can begin your internship:


    1. You cannot begin your internship until after the semester in which you are enrolled begins.
    2. You have attended the first class Orientation Webinar, signed the Orientation Acknowledgement and submitted it in Sonia, and completed the Orientation Quiz in Canvas.
    3. You have completed the Title IX Sexual Harassment training emailed to you by the University (you will receive this email after the semester begins).
    4. You have read, signed and uploaded your student forms into Sonia (i.e. Student Agreement, Student Waiver and Declaration of Originality).
    5. You have submitted your internship placement in Sonia (see Step 4 of Sonia Student User Guide) and it was approved by your instructor.
    6. You have completed your Project Management Plan and it was approved by your instructor.
  • What student forms do I need to begin my internship?
    • Student Orientation Acknowledgement. This form attests you have attended the Orientation Webinar and you understand the details of the internship requirements.
    • Student Learning Agreement. In this agreement, you are agreeing to all the academic requirements for CHS 494. It also covers expectations of student conduct, ensures you will comply with all host site rules and regulations. It covers disciplinary procedures in the event you do not comply with this agreement and covers expectations around safety and transportation. Lastly, this agreement covers insurance and liability terms.
    • Student Waiver, Release, and Indemnification Agreement. Upon signature, you understand the internship may involve certain risks. It states an informed consent will be given to all students for internships that may include any dangers, hazards, and inherent activity risk. This is a release and waiver of liability. Risks may include but are not limited to:
      • Traveling to and from the activity. It is important to note, transportation is not provided by the University of Nevada, Reno
      • Manual labor, including lifting, reaching, stretching, and moving objects. Students should be aware of their own physical limitations.
      • Inclement weather that can impact safety, such as rain, cold, wind or heat.
      • Physical environment, such as steep slopes, uneven terrain, loose rocks, and gravel, or slippery conditions.
      • And working with other volunteers from organizations outside of the University of Nevada, Reno.
    • Declaration of Originality Form. Students will be asked fill out a "Declaration of Originality" form provided through Canvas. This ensures students create original work, acts ethically and professionally, and does not plagiarize work from previous semesters. This will also allow the University of Nevada, Reno to re-use any materials created in this class for future examples or to highlight at community events or conferences.
    • Project Management Plan. This is a guide for your internship: A roadmap for your internship experience. It will help you develop clear goals and objectives, and force you to break down your internship into specific activities, outcomes, and associated timelines. This way, you'll know if you're staying on task and will help show your internship agency that real progress is being made. This will be completed in Sonia.

    Forms are available through request.

  • How do I know if my internship is an "approved" internship site with the University?

    Just because you found an internship, doesn't mean it is an approved internship site. According to University of Nevada, Reno policy, all internship sites must be must be vetted every three years with a Community Site Visit, proof of liability insurance, a sexual harassment policy, and a signed organizational agreement on file. If your internship site doesn't have these things on file, you will not be able to start your internship until they are.

    This process can be very time consuming depending on the organization, so the earlier you can find out if your site is approved, the better. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to find out if your site is approved or not.


    • I found my internship through Sonia, are those approved sites?
      • Yes. All the sites you see in Sonia have been vetted and approved.
    • What is the procedure to find out whether my internship site is approved or not?
      • Although all sites in Sonia are approved, that doesn't mean all approved sites are reflected in Sonia. We are still in the process of populating all of our sites into the system, so even if you don't see your site in Sonia, it could potentially still be approved.
      • Go ahead and submit your site through Sonia, this will be a catalyst to seek approval. See Step 4 of your Sonia Student User Guide on how to do this.
      • Since Sonia is a new system and we are all learning to use it, I would still email Melanie Flores at asap. She can look-up in the University system to see if your site has been thoroughly vetted.
    • What if my internship is not an approved site?
      • If you started looking for your internship early enough before the semester, there may be time to get your site vetted before you need to begin your internship.
      • Submit your site manually through Sonia. Go to Step 4 of your Sonia Student User Guide.
      • You will need the following information to do so:
        • Name and address of the organization
        • Full name of the contact
        • Contact email address
        • Contact phone number
      • This information will then be sent to your instructor to begin the vetting process.
      • Because Sonia is new to CHS, I would also follow-up with an email to Melanie Flores at to ensure the process for approval is in motion.
    • How long does it take to vet an organization thoroughly?
      • It depends on the organizational structure and how big/small it is. If it is a large organization or is outside the state, it can take anywhere from 3-12 months.
      • Mid-size organizations such as non-profit agencies are usually quick and can take 1-2 months if they have general liability insurance.
      • A start-up agency can be difficult to vet because they might not have a site or have liability insurance. It tends to be very difficult to get these type of sites approved.
      • Government agencies, especially non-local government agencies and large hospital systems are the most difficult and can take up to a year to be fully vetted.
    • What if my internship is not vetted in time to begin my internship?
      • Unfortunately, if your site is not thoroughly vetted per University policy, you will not be able to do your internship at your desired site.
      • It is our recommendation that you always have 2-3 sites lined up in the event your first choice does not get approved in time.
      • Also, start finding your internship site early. The earlier you begin your search, the more prepared you'll be to start your internship on time.
    • Is it my responsibility to conduct the Community Site Visit and get the paperwork on file?
      • No. It is the responsibility of the Field Education Coordinator for the School of Community Health Sciences, which is Melanie Flores.
      • However, it is your responsibility to make sure the site has been approved by following the instructions above.
    • Am I guaranteed an internship for this course?
      • No. It is your responsibility to find your own internship and to make sure it is an approved University of Nevada, Reno site so you may begin your internship for CHS 494.
      • If you end up in a situation you cannot find your internship by the class deadline, you will be asked to drop the class and will have to take the course the following semester.
  • What if the agency I'm at requires a background check?

    Background checks policy for University programs

    Some state, as well as federal laws, now require that any individual who regularly provides services to certain segments of the population (generally, those deemed "vulnerable" or "special," including but not limited to children and the sick) must submit to a criminal background check in order to obtain and maintain privileges in clinical and/or educational settings. Additionally, many sites affiliated with the University of Nevada, Reno for educational purposes have adopted this requirement.

    It is not University of Nevada, Reno policy to perform background checks on all University of Nevada, Reno students, and the University of Nevada, Reno does not certify or vouch for the background of the students who participate in an internship. Accordingly, an organization must conduct its own background check or require the student to obtain a background check, if the organization wants to determine fitness for duty using that information. It shall be the organization's responsibility to evaluate the results of such background check and determine the student's fitness for duty.

    Disclosure: Background check requirements

    As a student in Community Health Sciences, you may be required to submit to a background check before being assigned to a clinical facility. The clinical facility will review your background and either accept or reject you for clinical placement. If you receive an adverse action notice from the agency conducting the background check, you have the right to contact the director of human resources at the clinical facility where you are being placed. You may explain the adverse action to the clinical facility and request to be accepted for placement at the facility. If the facility rejects you for placement after review and discussion with you, the clinical facility will notify your program and your field education coordinator for your program will attempt to place you at another facility. If you cannot be placed at a clinical facility and failure to have a clinical rotations or internship will prevent you from completing your program, you will be advised to withdraw from the program.

    Students must be aware that:

    1. If a criminal background check is required for placement at any internship or clinical facility, the expense for the check will be borne by the student or requesting
    2. Student's responsibilities: Each student required to provide a criminal background check must provide documentation that they have completed the fingerprinting and criminal background check as required by the clinical facility. Students may need to provide this information prior to beginning a clinical or educational Students need to be aware of the requirements of their program and provide this information in compliance with the stated due date.
    3. Results of a criminal background check will not be the property of The University and will not require the submission of results to the School of Community Health Sciences or the University.
    4. If a student fails to pass a criminal background check they may be ineligible for enrollment and/or participation in the course/activity being
    5. The School of Public Health or the University does not accept responsibility for any student being ineligible for coursework or continued enrollment in the Community Health Sciences for any reason, including failure to pass a criminal background.
  • What is the additional documentation I will need for an internship at Washoe County Health District or Renown?

    Washoe County Health District

    If you have already solidified an internship at Washoe County Health District (WCHD), you must attest that you have read and understood the terms of your field study agreement between the University of Nevada, Reno and WCHD. The terms of your internship as agreed upon for CHS 494 include the following:

    • Students shall carry and have evidence of adequate group medical insurance prior to the participation in any educational experience at WCHD.
    • Students will meet all vaccine and TB screening requirements prior to beginning an educational experience on-site at WCHD.
    • Students will have obtained a background check prior to the participation in any educational experience at WCHD. Students are responsible for any costs associated with the background check. The results of these background checks may result in the removal of a participant from the program at the agency's discretion.
    • Students are responsible for adhering to the policies and procedures of the agency including, but not limited to, Internet use, photography waivers, confidentiality of personal health records and/or research.

    PLEASE DO NOT send any detailed documentation, records, or lab results directly to the School of Community Health Sciences or the Field Program Office. Signing the attestation form is proof you completed these activities. Be prepared to produce such documentation in the event WCHD asks for it.

    To show you have met these prerequisites, you must also submit a signed WCHD Attestation Form claiming you understand the terms of the agreement. Submit one copy into Sonia and one copy to WCHD Human Resources.

    Your HR representative at WCHD is Laurie Griffey,, (775) 328-2403.

    Renown Health

    If you have already solidified an internship at Renown Health, you must have the following prerequisites completed before you can begin your internship:

    Immunity, Vaccines and Drug Screen:

    • Proof of immunity to mumps, rubella and rubeola. This requires two (2) doses of MMR vaccine or serological testing for immunity to mumps, rubella and rubeola.
    • Proof of varicella immunity be verbal or written history obtained from the student, or titers.
    • Hepatitis B series initiation OR declination and/or testing to document serologic response.
    • Two-step TB Skin test or Quantiferon testing within the last 12 months.
    • Completion of flu shot during flu season (as indicated by state regulatory agency).
    • Proof of a negative drug screen.

    Students in the past have used Concentra for the drug test, they just need to specify it needs to be a 9-panel drug screen. Backgrounds can be taken through National Background Information.

    Criminal Background Check:

    • Completion of criminal background check
      • Student: Has not been sanctioned or investigated by federal or state regulatory agencies
      • Is not under investigation or pending investigation be a federal or state regulatory agency
      • Has not been the subject of disciplinary action, probation or adverse action by Institution and is of good standing
      • Has not been convicted of a felony, a crime of moral turpitude, assault or battery or a crime involving a minor

    PLEASE DO NOT send any documentation, records, or results directly to the School of Community Health Sciences or the Field Program Office.

    To show you have met these prerequisites, you must submit a signed Renown Attestation Form claiming you have completed the above requirements through Sonia.

    In addition, Renown will ask you to submit a formal externship application. This should only be completed if you have already solidified a preceptor and internship.

    Once these two things are completed, you should be able to begin your internship. Your HR representative at Renown to ensure you have completed all the requirements is Jenna Martineau,, (775) 982-5298.