Deployments

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Agencies/Organizations

What is a “deployment”?

We frequently respond to requests, and seek out opportunities, for MCH graduate students to be deployed to a state agency or nonprofit. The student works directly with a masters-level professional to assist the organization or agency with a time-limited project. The student receives a scholarship from the Center, which is paid directly to the student via a one-time stipend at the end of their deployment.

Projects might include program or policy development, data gathering and analysis, or health promotion, all of which would make ideal learning opportunities for students while helping your agency or organization with its important work. We’ve deployed students to help the MN Prison Doula Project create a pregnancy guide for incarcerated women, comb through WIC data and communicate about cancer topics.

Are there specific objectives that Center has for the deployment project(s)?

Yes, the focus of these deployments is to (1) provide students with experience working in an MCH or public health agency or organization, (2) build the capacity of the organization or agency that students are deployed to, and (3) support  organizations/agencies providing programs ​​that serve and support ​maternal and child health ​populations​, especially vulnerable​ populations​.

What are the benefits of a deployment for my agency or organization?

You will get to work closely with an enthusiastic and skilled MCH graduate student, many of whom are already professionals in their own right, who will assist you in starting or completing a project or area of need within your organization. Because we typically provide scholarship stipends to students, your agency or organization also benefits since you don’t need to find funding for the student through your organization or agency.

Are deployments semester- or year-long?

Deployment length is flexible and depends on the project but they can begin at any time.​ However, if the student is receiving a stipend from the Center, the stipend will need to be paid–and project complete–by the end of the budget year (June 30 of every year).

The hours and timelines, like the projects, vary depending on the needs of the organization/agency.

How many hours typically can we expect a student to commit to a project?

A good average to aim for would be 100-120 total hours​ (5 hours/week = 6 months; 10 hours/week = 3 months). We have extended projects beyond the original timeline when there’s been a need to, and when the student is available to continue their work. However, because the number of paid deployments are budgeted strictly into our budget, it is unlikely that there will be funding available to the student for continuing a project beyond the anticipated end date.

Do students do solo projects for their deployment? Do they ever partner and work together on a deployment?

Deployments are usually solo but if a case can be made for assigning two students to one project, or having a small window of overlap of both students (if one student assists with gathering data during their deployment while another student combs through the data, for example), that is something we’d be willing to explore.​

What are the benefits of a deployment to the student?

There are many! During their deployment, MCH trainees work to fine-tune and develop the competencies MCH professionals need to work with MCH populations. An MCH leader inspires and brings people together to achieve sustainable results to improve the lives of the MCH population; in order to accomplish this, MCH leaders need excellent project management skills to ensure services and programs are running smoothly and efficiently.

Students’ deployments will create a solid foundation for building key skills that employers in every sector are looking for; among them, the ability to (1) communicate effectively and (2) plan, organize and prioritize projects. The MCH populations students serve will depend on these skills, which complement the MCH theories, concepts, and history students learn about in the classroom.

Do students have an instructor who oversees the deployment project?

The day-to-day supervision, mentorship and task management comes from the agency/organization since the staff there have the ins and outs of the project needs, goals and anticipated results. ​However, each student in the MCH Program has a designated faculty advisor and, if the student utilizes a deployment as part of their field experience, they need to have the sign-off of two faculty advisors to ensure that the project fits the Program requirements and objectives needed to fulfill their field placement. We recommend reviewing the “field experience” section of the MCH Program Guidebook (page 13) for more information.

What is expected of someone who supervises a deployed student?

The Center is here to support you, the supervisor, and expects that you will communicate any issues with Center staff (sbenning@umn.edu) immediately. We anticipate that you will have interest in and capacity to help to train the next generation of public health professionals through a deployment to your agency or organization. You will utilize your expertise in your field to guide students through their project, provide supervision on project tasks and activities, communicate regularly with the student who is deployed to you and provide feedback to the student about their performance.

We also anticipate that you will provide the student with an orientation that will acclimate them to your organization’s or agency’s mission and culture, policies (including dress code policies, if any) and procedures, and anything else that will help ensure the start of a successful professional relationship.

If the student creates a “product” (a brief, paper, literature review, environmental scan, video, etc.), we may ask you to include language that credits our funder, HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), for providing the funding that allowed a student to help you or agency/organization staff create the product. This depends on the project being undertaken, and we will work with you to ensure this occurs if and when it needs to.

Why does the student have to be supervised by someone with a master’s degree?

Students may want to use deployments to fulfill their field experience requirements. If that’s the case, field experience preceptors should have an MPH or equivalent degree to meet the School of Public Health’s requirements for supervision.    

I’m interested in having a student deployed to my agency or organization. Now what?

  • The Agency/Organization: Crafts a brief job description of the project and a short rationale that includes the 5 Ws of the project (answers who, what, where, when and why). Ensures that all approvals have been made by their own agency/unit beforehand.
  • The Center: Gauges student interest, connects the student with the potential supervisor to see if it’s a good match, and facilitates the hiring process (i.e., drafts an offer letter, works with U of MN payroll and HR to get student set up in various systems).
  • The Student: Completes any necessary paperwork for the Center and the org/agency they’ll be working with. If they’re completing the work as part of their field experience, they will also need to ensure that paperwork is complete before beginning.

Questions?

Contact Sara Benning at mch@umn.edu if you need clarification on the above, or if you have a great idea for a student deployment.