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FAQs Administrative Field Placement

Frequently Asked Questions about the Administrative Field Placement & Field Placement Policies

Note: The term “Field Placement” is a generic term to apply to the Administrative Internship, the Administrative Practicum, and the Administrative Residency. This information is relevant for all MHA students.

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  •      The purpose of the Administrative Internship is to assist you in integrating and applying your didactic learning to an actual healthcare setting. The Internship is a full‐time 40 hour per week experience for one semester.

         The Administrative Practicum is intended for students who are working full‐time in healthcare management and want to do their placement at their place of work. The practicum is a 20‐hour per week experience in which students are exposed to areas in which they have not previously worked. That might include finance and executive functions if you have a clinical background. An administrative practicum is similar to administrative internship, but involves 20 hours per week as opposed to 40 hours per week in the administrative internship. This is typically reserved for students who are working in a health care institution (in a position such as a senior manager in nursing) and want their placement to be at their place of employment. A key is the practicum must be clearly separated from the job. A student’s regular job cannot be considered an administrative practicum.

         The Administrative Residency is an exception to the School of Health Administration’s general practice of providing administrative internships and practicums exclusively. The Residency is 40 hours per week for two or more semester and is assigned at the preceptor’s request and with the concurrence of the student.

  • Good educational practice dictates a didactic and experiential learning experience. The field placement provides integration and opportunities for application. The accrediting body for Healthcare Administration Education (CAHME) requires an experiential learning experience for accreditation.

  • The Coordinator is the only one authorized to contact a preceptor regarding a placement. You may network among healthcare executives, but you are not permitted to initiate a discussion about field placements.


    The entire process for the field placement is initiated and completed during the Seminar (HA 5191). The process is as follows:

    1. You will complete the field placement application, indicating your preference for type of institution, size, specialty, and location.
    2. The Coordinator, in consultation with the Director, Graduate Studies reviews the applications. An initial assignment is made.
    3. The Coordinator reviews the assignment with the student.
    4. The Coordinator phones the preceptor at that institute or agency to request placement and to discuss the student’s background.
    5. If the preceptor is in agreement, the student will phone and write the preceptor to request an interview.
    6. The Coordinator will contact the preceptor to determine the results of the interview.
    7. The Coordinator will confirm the preceptor’s decision with the student.
    8. The Coordinator will mail an addendum to an affiliation agreement, signed by the Coordinator, indicating the starting and ending dates. If an affiliation agreement is needed the Coordinator will initiate the affiliation agreement.
    9. You will initiate and complete the health form, the insurance payment (money order payable to Texas State University‐San Marcos); the amount varies by semester. Students will also complete the contact form as soon as possible.
  • A good placement would be an institution that reflects the interests of the student (as expressed in the application), has numerous learning opportunities (not just one department), has been shown to be an excellent site as confirmed by past students, and has a good preceptor with an interest in teaching.

  • From our perspective, a good preceptor has earned a master’s degree and is in a senior level position, preferably is board certified in healthcare management or an applicable certification to HSR, and is an alumnus of Texas State University, School of Health Administration, and is willing to dedicate the time to mentor you. The preceptor should display a helpful attitude; a good orientation; accessibility to meetings and clarity of assigned projects; and finally, opportunities to improve communication and personal skills.

  • The best thing to do early on is to consider the type of institute or agency and location in which you want to do your field placement. You can research types of institutions online and you can attend conferences and talk with managers about their institutions, without soliciting a field placement.

  • The most important thing is to determine a subject for research. You can do this by considering the research of your professors and, most importantly, select an area in which you have an intense interest. The Master’s Thesis may become an avenue to publishing and paving a way for an academic career.

  • Preceptors are looking for students who are energetic, highly interested, willing to come in early and stay late, to do extra work and maintain a very positive attitude. Preceptors expect you to maintain professionalism in your appearance and in your communications. In addition, this is a formal part of your curriculum, so you are there to learn in an experiential setting. Take advantage of this unique opportunity and see/experience as much as you can about your facility and the industry of healthcare.

  • Reports include the following:

      1. You must turn in (by e‐mail) weekly reports that describe your activities. These reports must integrate what was learned in the classroom with your field placement activities.
      2. You must turn in (by the end of your second week) a proposal for a project. This can be a project that is assigned by the Preceptor.
      3. You must turn in the final project on the last day of class as outlined in the syllabus.
      4. You must turn in an alumni survey and student evaluation of the experience at the end of your field placement.
  • The preceptor will evaluate you using the form in the SOHA Field Placement Handbook. The Academic Mentor issues the final grade (Credit or Non‐Credit) based on completion of the requirements of the field placement.

  • You should apply for graduation within the first week of your field placement. That deadline is posted on the academic calendar. You may apply for graduation online.

  • The key deadlines are application for graduation (first week of field practice), weekly reports (each Monday), project proposal (third week of field placement), final project; site evaluation; and student data form (last day of class).

  • It is essential that you maintain confidentiality, meaning information concerning the institution will never be shared beyond the Academic Mentor or Coordinator. Of particular importance is information that could be of competitive advantage. Also, it is not appropriate to share one department head’s confidential comments with other department heads, as this may create ill feelings. It is highly recommended that you dress conservatively, with men wearing suits or blazers and slacks and women wearing suits. You may relax that standard upon seeing what the executive staff commonly wear. At social functions, remember that you represent both the institution and the University.

  • Proprietary information is any information that could be used for a competitive advantage, such as plans, marketing, construction, etc. You should never share such information. As a student on a field placement, you will not share this information beyond the academic setting. As an employee, improperly sharing proprietary information could get you fired.

  • It is important to learn as much as you can about the institution so that you will show an interest, be able to answer questions and be informed about the institution and the preceptor. It is also important to learn interview skills taught in the Seminar (HA 5191) course as well as to read as much as you can about interviewing. It is also important to be yourself.

  • Yes, some facilities may require a criminal background check and/or a drug screen before you start. However, since this practice is not wide‐spread, the School of Health Administration does not require criminal background checks and/or drug screens for all students. If the facility requires a criminal background check and/or drug screen, the College of Health Professions has contracted with Pre‐Check to complete the checks and/or screens at the student’s request and expense. Information about Pre‐ Check can be found under the Resources tab and Documents folder on the School of Health Administration website.

  • Major offenses such as misuse of funds, unprofessional relationships, sharing of proprietary information, disclosure of confidential information and showing up consistently late could get you removed from the site. We do not expect this to happen as we know you will be professional. We are just being candid so students will know of the importance of professionalism. While these things make common sense, problems have occurred, in rare instances, in the past. Inform your academic mentor immediately if you perceive that an action on your part may become a major problem – (i.e. a legal issue or a personnel issue). Please be aware that many institutions now do criminal background checks and drug screens on all employees and students. If that could be a problem for you, you may want to consider a thesis.

  • Not completing the Field Placement is defined as failing to be at your Field Placement site from the first day until the last day of the semester in which you are enrolled the required hours and completing all required coursework as outlined in previous information. There is no mechanism for terminating the Field Placement early for any reason, as this is a required class for the degree completion, and as such all policies and procedures apply as in all other curriculum courses. If you do not successfully complete the course (for whatever reason), you will be given an Incomplete and allowed to complete another Field Placement (or change to a Thesis) the next semester. There are no exceptions. Getting a job that starts before the last day of class is not an exception to end the field placement early.