Why public
health placements

Why public health placements

In 2020, the Royal Society for Public Health conducted focus group research into the opportunity to expand placements in public health settings to student Allied Health Professionals. This research identified various benefits to these placements, for the students themselves, their future patients, the organisations where they carried out the placement, and the healthcare system as a whole.

If you are thinking of doing a public health placement, or providing one, this is how our research suggests it could help you.

  • Increased understanding of the four public health domains: improving the wider determinants of health; health improvement; health protection; and healthcare, public health and preventing premature mortality.
  • Improved patient care through a better appreciation of the wider determinants of health and barriers to healthy behaviours.
  • Greater familiarity with public health campaigns and messages which will help AHPs identify warning signs in their patients, signpost them to other services and ‘make every contact count’.
  • Increased cultural sensitivity and competence through interacting with a more diverse population.
  • Better understanding of the health needs and community assets of a local area.
  • Transferable competencies and skills including leadership, autonomy, project planning and management skills, research, communication skills, creativity in problem-solving, and the ability to develop partnerships and working collaboratively.

Benefits for students

Benefits for students

  • Increased understanding of the four public health domains: improving the wider determinants of health; health improvement; health protection; and healthcare, public health and preventing premature mortality.
  • Improved patient care through a better appreciation of the wider determinants of health and barriers to healthy behaviours.
  • Greater familiarity with public health campaigns and messages which will help AHPs identify warning signs in their patients, signpost them to other services and ‘make every contact count’.
  • Increased cultural sensitivity and competence through interacting with a more diverse population.
  • Better understanding of the health needs and community assets of a local area.
  • Transferable competencies and skills including leadership, autonomy, project planning and management skills, research, communication skills, creativity in problem-solving, and the ability to develop partnerships and working collaboratively.

Benefits for public health organisations

  • Having a fresh perspective on their service, which helps them to identify gaps in their delivery or areas for improvement.
  • Increased capacity to focus on a project which the organisation would otherwise lack the time to deliver.
  • The ability to recruit staff or volunteers from students who have already become familiar with the organisation after they graduate.
  • A touchpoint with the latest research and practice.

You can read the stories of public health placements where these benefits were realised here and the full research report here.