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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.

Beginning Summer 2024, SOHA will no longer offer Summer term field placements. Students who complete HA 4141 or HA 5191 in a Spring semester will have to wait until the following Fall semester to begin their residency in HA 4848 or HA 5840 respectively. The same applies to students with an HA minor taking HA 4440 as an internship.

  • The purpose of the field placement/internship is to assist the student in integrating and applying didactic learning to an actual healthcare setting. For Bachelor of Health Administration (BHA) and Master of Health Administration (MHA) students, the field placement is a one-semester, full-time (40 hours a week) experience.

    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.

  • All BHA and MHA students must complete a field placement unless School of Health Administration leadership has approved the writing of a thesis in lieu of a field placement. The BSHS internship is an elective.

  • Good educational practice mandates a blended didactic and experiential learning experience. The field placement provides integration and opportunities for application of lessons developed in the classroom. The Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) and the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME), our accrediting bodies, require an experiential learning experience for accreditation.

  • The practice coordinator is the only one authorized to contact a preceptor regarding a placement. A student may network among healthcare executives, but the student is asked to work with the practice coordinator to initiate a discussion about field placements. The process is initiated and completed during HA 4141 or 5191

    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.
  • Yes. The field placement for the BHA residency fulfills the BHA degree requirements and provides beneficial onsite experience facilitating integration of course knowledge into a “real-world” application. The field experience that the student has as an undergraduate better prepares the student for the rigorous graduate-level curriculum in the MHA program. The student completing the BHA residency will be able to better relate to the theory, concepts, and model in the graduate program coursework.

  • An ideal placement is an organization 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.

  • An ideal preceptor is a senior executive with a graduate degree, board certified in a health-related specialty, who is willing to commit a reasonable amount of time to mentor you with a helpful attitude. The preceptor provides a good orientation, access to meetings and other leaders in the organization, clarity of assigned projects, and opportunities to improve your communications and professional skills. We want the preceptor to allow the student to explore, examine, and attend throughout the organization.

  • The field placement/internship is not a compensated opportunity, it is a university course. The practice coordinator does not ask about or maintain records of past site-specific compensation practices. The practice coordinator will not make assignments based on that factor. Any discussions about compensation occur between the student and preceptor. The most critical factor in placement is finding a site that provides an excellent educational experience. Any requirements related to compensation cannot interfere with course objectives.

  • The role of the student is to observe health management in action and participate in assigned projects under the guidance of a preceptor from the host organization. The student will participate by interacting with senior level executives, departmental managers, and staff under the philosophy of explore, examine, and attend. The student is to approach each department rotation with a learning attitude and spirit of cooperation.

    The student is encouraged to:

    • Explore all departments and sections within the organization;

    • Explore other organizations within the organizational family;

    • Explore other organization types to broaden knowledge;

    • Examine the full range of health administration and management; and

    • Attend senior leader meetings at the organizational level.

  • The student’s main focus will be to observe, listen, and watch during meetings. He or she should refrain from making suggestions for improvement in any areas, unless asked. The student is not a consultant to the institution, but a student. This is important to remember.

  • Preceptors are looking for students who are energetic, highly interested, willing to expend every effort to succeed, eager to accept or find project assignments, and maintain a very positive attitude. Preceptors expect a student to maintain professionalism in appearance and in communications. In addition, this is a formal part of the student’s curriculum, so the student is there to learn in an experiential setting. The student is to take advantage of this unique opportunity and explore, examine, and attend as much as he or she can during the placement.

  • A. The student must turn in weekly reports that describe the student’s activities the previous week. The focus is on what the student did and what the student learned from what he or she did. The student is to integrate classroom learning, content, models, theories, and applications with weekly activities experienced in the field placement within the weekly reports.

    B. The student must turn in a proposal for a project. This will be a project that is collaboratively developed by the student and the student’s preceptor. The faculty advisor’s role is to approve the proposal. See page 8 for details of the proposal.

    C. The student must turn in a final paper describing the project. See page 8 for details about the final paper.

    D. The student must turn in an end-of-semester alumni survey and student evaluation from the field placement experience.

    E. All due dates are listed in the course syllabus and/or on the Canvas Learning Management System.

  • The preceptor will provide the student with feedback using an online survey. The faculty advisor issues the final grade Credit (Pass) or Non-Credit (Fail)) based on completion of the requirements of the field placement.

  • A successful residency/internship semester means the student graduates at the end of the residency/internship semester. Therefore, the student should apply for graduation in accordance with the University’s policies and deadlines established for the semester of your internship. The application opening date and deadline are posted on the university’s academic calendar.

  • Specific calendar dates will be listed on the course syllabus.

  • The following documents are required:

    A. Application for field placement

    B. Health form

    C. Completion of certified background check

    D. Resume and cover letter with professional photo

    E. Resident Placement Form (submitted after the site-interview)

    F. Affiliation agreement with facility (coordinator’s responsibility)

  • The student should constantly be scanning for future job opportunities. The student may commence a job search anytime but understand that he or she must stay at his or her field placement full-time (40 hours a week) through the end of the semester. It is appropriate for the student to wait until the halfway mark of the semester before talking with the preceptor about the possibility of employment in the organization. In doing so, he or she may indicate they are starting a job search and ask if any employment possibilities exist within the organization. If not, the student may ask the preceptor about their willingness to serve as a reference for the student.

  • The student’s professionalism will be on display every day. The student is to be aware that he or she will be watched and observed in every action or inaction. The student is to dress conservatively, with men wearing suits or blazers and slacks and women wearing suits. The student may relax that standard upon seeing how executive staff commonly dress after a few weeks at the site. At social functions, the student is to remember that they represent the preceptor, the organization, the University, the School of Health Administration, including alumni, students, faculty, and peers.

  • Proprietary information is any information the organization wants to keep secret for business, competitive, or other reasons. It is essential that the student maintain complete confidentiality with all proprietary information, whether the student feels it would provide the recipient a competitive advantage or not. In fact, the student must keep complete confidentiality with all internal information. That means the student will never share information concerning the field placement organization with anyone other than the faculty advisor, as a part of the weekly report or final paper. The faculty advisor is held to the same strict standard. On another note of confidentiality, this time interpersonal confidentially, it is never appropriate to share one person’s confidential comments with anyone else in the organization. The trust one loses when violating the rule of confidentially is almost never regained.

  • It is important to learn as much as one can about the institution so that the student will be able to demonstrate interest in and knowledge about the organization and understanding of its mission. The student should also learn about the preceptor or other person(s) conducting the interview, so he or she can talk about shared interests or values. In both cases, this research will ease concerns, help the student be more confident, and allow the student to ask appropriate questions and be engaged in the conversation. It is also important to review and practice the interviewing skills taught in HA 4141 and 5191 and gleaned from other resources and reading. The more a student practices the more at ease the student will be. The Career Services Office at Texas State University is a valuable resource. Being at ease allows the student to be comfortable and confident.

  • The School of Health Administration utilizes a third party to conduct routine background checks on all students planning to participate in the administrative residencies, senior residencies, and internships. Students will be given instructions in HA 4141 or HA 5191 on how to apply for a background check. Specific field placement sites may require additional drug screens. Students should speak with the practice coordinator if the student anticipates that a background check or drug screen will result in a report showing a criminal offense or positive drug result. Our goal is not to prevent a student from a field placement/internship, but to work with the student relative to a potential problem.

  • Major offenses such as misuse of funds, unprofessional relationships, sharing of proprietary information, disclosure of confidential information, showing up consistently late, and not paying full attention by frequently checking electronic devices during conversation or at a meeting may well result in a preceptor directing the departure from or terminating the field placement. While avoiding these and similar activities makes common sense, occasional student offenses have previously occurred (being asleep at one’s desk, spreading rumors, or otherwise being disruptive to the business on site). The student is to inform the faculty advisor immediately if he or she perceives that an action may become a problem.

  • The field placement is a required course in the BHA and MHA degree plans. There is no mechanism for ending the field placement early for any reason. There are no exceptions. Accepting a job that requires a student to start before the semester’s last class day is not a valid reason to end the field placement early. If a student does not successfully achieve the course requirements, he or she will be given a grade of “Fail.”

  • This rarely occurs, but if it does, the first step is for the faculty advisor and practice coordinator, working with the preceptor, to investigate and fully understand the reason(s) for the situation. Based on that understanding, the faculty advisor, practice coordinator, and preceptor (if appropriate) will work with the student to determine the best way to proceed. The plan may include the student receiving a grade of “Incomplete” and continuing his or her field placement in a subsequent semester and at a different organization.

  • After the student’s interview, we recommend that the student send a personal, hand-written note to his or her potential preceptor, expressing appreciation for the interview. At the end of the field experience/internship, the student should also write a personal, hand-written note to his or her preceptor. It is also appropriate to present a professional gift, such as a nominally priced professional book, to the preceptor.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Master's Thesis