For MPH students the culminating academic experience for their program is a Masters Project (or publishable paper) that benefits that community or a particular target population. Projects must contribute meaningfully to the current body of knowledge in the field and may include creating a program plan, program evaluation, or policy initiative.
The project is often connected to the student's Practice-Based Learning by addressing a need identified by the host site. The project or paper will relate to a student’s academic goals and professional interests, as well as demonstrate the student’s ability to work independently at the master’s level.
The final products are a professional oral and poster presentation at the CSPH Public Health Forum, and a 8-10 page reflective paper addressing the student’s experience. Students earn their Capstone Experience credits through their Masters Project. Assigned faculty members and site preceptors provide ongoing support and guidance to students during the project. At the end of each semester students present their work at the Public Health Forum.
Download more information | Capstone Experience Guidelines |Capstone Project Proposal
Previous Community & Behavioral Health Projects:
"Dying Wish: Effects of a Documentary Film on Medical Student Knowledge, Attitude and Skills Regarding Nutrition at the End of Life"
Scott De La Cruz, MD, MPH Community & Behavioral Health (Spring 2010)
Many health care professionals lack knowledge regarding nutrition at the end of life. Currently, there are no published data on medical student knowledge, attitudes or skills in discussing nutrition. Dr. De La Cruz developed end of life care curriculum for 139 medical students which included the documentary film Dying Wish. Students worked in pairs to complete a SP encounter in which they were asked to lead a family meeting regarding goals of care for a patient where the issue of nutrition was relevant. He found that incorporating the documentary film into curriculum was feasible and those students who viewed the film were more likely to effectively convey the biological consequences of starvation at the end of life.
"Online Social Networks: Communicating for Behavior Change"
Michelle L Henry, RD, MPH Community & Behavioral Health
Online social networks are an increasingly popular venue for communications and might offer a new means for health education. Health educators must understand the opportunities and limits of these networks. Michelle used a social networking site to examine how individuals interact and how their behavior might be influenced by observation and interaction with others on a social networking site.
She developed a Facebook page for nutrition education with content from a Registered Dietitian. Influencers, each representing one of Prochaska’s stages of behavior change (contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance), recruited friends to the page by comments and posts to the page. Their Facebook contacts viewed their comments and posts. Randomly selected Facebook users received advertisements. The number of visits and the route of contact with the page (through influencer or advertisement) were measured.
Michelle, concluded that efforts to reach online social network users are more successful through friends rather than posting a random, anonymous advertisement. A friend is more likely to be recruited if the influencer is in the action stage of change. Efforts that allow natural friend-to-friend recruitment will likely provide the largest reach.
"Assessment of water and sanitation needs in a batey community in the Dominican Republic"
Sarah Lampe, MPH Community & Behavioral Health
Without clean water for drinking, cooking and bathing, communities in developing countries are faced with preventable health issues, from severe diarrhea in children to malaria. Sarah worked to carry out an iterative, community driven needs assessment based in water and sanitation, to ensure adequate planning of a water and sanitation project in the Dominican Republic. She found that gathering information from the community to understand the source of contamination and working on solutions devised by the community were positive outcomes. Challenges included the lack of effectiveness of the education and working with the two cultures on one project.