Objective As part of the National MCH Workforce Development Center, an innovative internship program placed MCH undergraduate and graduate students in summer practica in state Title V agencies. Graduate student mentoring of undergraduates and leadership and professional development training and support are key features of the program. The objective of this paper is to report on the results of the evaluation of the MCH Paired Practica Program in its pilot years, 2014–2016. Methods Students completed pre and post internship questionnaires which included closed as well as open-ended questions. In addition, the Title V state health agency preceptors completed a questionnaire at the end of each summer. Results Over the 3-year pilot project, a total of 17 teams participated. Students were from 6 of the 13 graduate Centers of Excellence in MCH programs in Schools of Public Health and two undergraduate MCH Pipeline Programs. There were 11 participating states. After the practicum experience, there was a significant increase in students’ confidence in a number of measures related to working in complex, dynamic environments and in their ability to contribute to improvements in MCH population health. Students reported having more confidence in their ability to function effectively as an informal/formal MCH leader (p = 0.02), more confidence in their ability to contribute to improvements in MCH population health (p = 0.04), and being more prepared to enter the workforce after the practicum experience (p = 0.07), although there was no significant change in students’ (n = 22) interest in seeking a job in a Title V agency or a community based organization with a MCH focus. Nearly 60% of the students did state at the posttest that they would likely seek additional education in MCH. Overall, the Title V preceptors (n = 14) were very positive about the program although in some instances there was less confidence in the knowledge and skills of the undergraduate students. Conclusion The MCH Paired Practica Program is a unique effort to go beyond the academic training of undergraduate and graduate MCH students to provide them with direct exposure to the field, as well as leadership, mentorship, and professional development training. While some challenges emerged related to differences in skills between undergraduates and graduate MCH students, participating students demonstrated clear improvements in their leadership skills including increased confidence in their ability to take initiative, provide opinions and feedback, to function informally or formally as leaders, and to contribute to improvements in MCH population health.
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Funding was provided by Maternal and Child Health Bureau (US)[UE7MC26282-03-00].
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Handler, A., Klaus, J., Long-White, D. et al. Innovations in Maternal and Child Health: Pairing Undergraduate and Graduate Maternal and Child Health Students in Summer Practica in State Title V Agencies. Matern Child Health J 22, 154–165 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-017-2412-y
- Student mentoring
- Graduate students
- Undergraduate students
- Title V agencies