As a student in the health policy and administration (HPA) program, you will be required to participate in a field experience, sometimes called a practicum or internship, in a health care facility or related agency before your final semester. This internship requirement can be completed in your own community setting.

Internship Course Work

The field experience should provide you with practical experience in the administration of health care organizations, health services planning and delivery, and/or research in the health care field. One of the strengths of Penn State's Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration is the emphasis on professional development.

The field experience includes a two-course requirement:

Clinical Experience Courses
Course Number and Name Clinical Description Credits
H P A 390W: Professional Development in HPA

This course is taken at least one semester prior to your actual internship. During this course, you will help prepare yourself for your internship experience by:

  • preparing a cover letter and résumé for use in future internship and job search activities
  • effectively using computers and software designed to enhance writing abilities and minimize errors
  • learning and practicing interviewing skills
  • participating in discussions regarding patient privacy and HIPAA laws
3 credits
HPA 395: Field Experience in HPA

During this course, you will gain administrative training and experience through an internship for a minimum of 320 hours with a health service organization, either over one semester or two consecutive semesters. As part of the field experience, you will:

  • complete a weekly log of your activities and experiences
  • participate in online discussions
  • write an internship paper
3 credits (320 hours)

Benefits to Completing an HPA Internship

Designed to enhance your overall learning, this internship will provide you with an opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge you are acquiring in your online course work. The internship experience can uniquely prepare you by introducing you to other professionals in the field and to the work environment in a way that cannot be duplicated in the classroom.

While other students could graduate with similar educational experiences, these professional development experiences will help you stand out in the job market with transferable skills that employers are seeking.

Internship Objectives

The flexible internship experience serves as a critical component of your overall academic process by focusing on various personalized objectives, including:

  • gaining practical experience in administration/management, research, or policy.
  • interacting with other health professionals and providing guidance in the establishment of your professional identity.
  • applying your knowledge and skills learned in a classroom setting.
  • introducing you to real-life situations and experiencing first-hand how those issues impact the organization.
  • developing awareness of special career interests, abilities, and areas of potential improvement in order to select appropriate relevant coursework and training during your final year of academic study.
  • establishing a professional network in which you can grow as you further pursue your career goals.

Examples of Appropriate Internship Experiences

You will work closely with your internship coordinator and your preceptor to plan the path most appropriate for you. Your individual internship experience will be based on your own needs and goals. Some possible internship experiences to consider include:

  1. Attending key leadership meetings
  2. Shadowing your preceptor throughout the course of a day
  3. Being assigned to various projects within an organization
  4. Presenting a defined internship project to senior managementPerforming a wide variety other tasks assigned by your preceptor

For additional details about our internship, please view our Student Internship Website.