Placements in global health masters' programmes: what is the student experience?

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BackgroundGlobal health training is increasingly part of public health training in high-income countries, with placements as key components. We sought preliminary evidence of student placement experiences and learning through masters' programmes at the universities of Oxford and Toronto.MethodsIn a mixed-methods design, we drew on existing programme records, student feedback surveys (Oxford only) and semi-structured interviews with graduates.ResultsStudents participated in practice, informed policy and conducted research across a wide variety of topics, and with a range of different tasks, mostly overseas. Building on existing collaboration- or partnership-facilitated placement setup. Clear communication and face-to-face time with organizational representatives or on-site supervisors helped clarify placement objectives. Flexibility on students' and supervisors' part enabled students to take advantage of urgent public health activities for learning. Students valued the opportunity to make cross-country comparisons, to see first-hand the role of international organizations and to learn concrete skills in project design, questionnaire formulation, qualitative and quantitative analysis and writing up.ConclusionsPlacements were valuable to public health professionals in training. We encourage other programmes to share placement experience of their students, field supervisors and host organizations.

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