My current social work field placement is really bringing my two degree programs together. I’m a dual degree student – doing a Master of Public Health in SPH (in the department of Health Behavior and Health Education) and a Master of Social Work at the School of Social Work. I’m studying Community Organization and Community & Social Systems in social work. There are many dual degree options for students in public health, and it can be a really great investment if you want to work in multiple fields.
This is my third and final year of the dual degree program, and I’m happy that my courses and field experiences are really coming together in my learning. For my public health department, students usually do a 3-4 month field placement between their two years. I did a year-long placement at the HIV/AIDS Resource Center as an AmeriCorps member for the National AIDS Fund’s national direct AmeriCorps program in Detroit. For a social work degree, students can elect to do either two field placements (one each during each academic year) or one longer-term placement (from January – December of one calendar year). Most students elect to do the single placement, but I elected to do two.
This year’s placement is at the Washtenaw County Public Health department and I’m working with a number of community members to develop a Latin@ community center, Casa Latina, for Washtenaw County. I’m applying coursework in both schools that has covered grant-writing, program development, program evaluation, community participation, multi-level interventions, social marketing, survey design, materials creation, leadership development, and community organization and development. It’s nice to be able to apply what I’ve learned, and even combine some tasks at my field placement with current coursework. For example, for my program evaluation class, my final project is to create an evaluation plan for a health program – which is one of my tasks for a grant I’m writing at my placement. For another class, my final project is to create a community participation plan, which is something we need to do for Casa Latina anyway.
It’s great when I get to do public health practice during the semester and apply the things I’m learning in the classroom to the real world. Sometimes I wish there was a larger field component in public health, but there are definitely options for getting more real-world practice if you look for them.