Graduate-level education in public health often involves professional field placements that test the knowledge of students within contexts and conditions of community and international settings. Reflection on field placements can become a critical part of the training process, for the pre-professions in public health. The stories of student successes and challenges in these placements assists in telling the story of an educational institution's own goals and accomplishments for preparing the public health leaders of tomorrow. The Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, understands the importance of supporting its graduate students in sharing stories of how service placements have changed them, as people and as professionals.
Each year beginning in 2012, StoryCenter staff has partnered with the Fielding School to lead a cohort of seven to 10 graduate students through the process of creating digital stories about their field experiences. The stories have covered work in Los Angeles communities, as well as work with public health projects in all parts of the world. Our ongoing collaboration has included a pre-summer orientation for possible student participants, a series of standard digital storytelling workshops for graduate students. We have also assisted faculty and staff in producing stories about their work in the field, as part of programs supported by the Fielding School.
The School has shown these engaging stories of public health in a range of venues, from classrooms to campus wide presentations. Marketing and development staff have used the stories to gain support for the School, admissions staff and faculty have shared them as part of student recruitment efforts, and students and faculty have found ways to feature their stories as part of online curriculum and project presentations.