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APEx in Action

MPH students convert academic theory to public health practice by completing a 240-hour Applied Practice Experience (APEx) in a community health setting. APEx provides a bridge for students to join a growing talented and competent public health workforce.  

Organizations indicate MPH students increase capacity, add fresh perspective, and make a positive impact. Preceptors from each organization are matched with qualified, work-ready graduate students who accomplish measurable, achievable objectives that satisfy both curriculum requirements and organizational needs.  

If your organization has interest in hosting an MPH intern, contact Applied Practice Experience Coordinator Amanda Letheren, MPH, DrPH

Featured Applied Practice Experiences


Sarah Shaffer

Patient Safety Education and Quality Payment Analysis at Team Health

Concentration: Community Health Education
Location: Knoxville, TN
Agency Name: TeamHealth
Agency Type: Healthcare Provider Contract Agency
Semester: Fall 2019


TeamHealth Logo

Major projects:

  • Helped develop a CME (continuing medical education) accredited program on human trafficking
  • Created a one-page reference guide on recognizing and responding to human trafficking for clinicians
  • Extracted and analyzed data from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services) between FVBP (facility value-based purchasing) and the MIPS (merit-based incentive payment system) program by TINs (tax id numbers) to determine the more advantageous score per TIN
  • Analyzed MIPS cost category for risk and impact

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BreeAnna Dell


Application of One Health Principles and the Socioeconomic Theory to Address Public Health Issues in Nepal

Concentration: VPH
Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
Agency Name: Patan Academy of Health Sciences
Agency Type: Non-profit hospital
Semester: Summer 2015

Major Projects:

  • Drafted preliminary manuscript for retrospective study at Patan Hospital of the antibiotic resistance profiles of patient body in the year 2068.
  • Served as One Health/human health team member of Nepali Veterinary Association animal health outpost in earthquake-affected district of Dolakha
  • Drafted clinical presentation section of manuscript on confirmed Influenza B. patients presenting at Patan Hospital.
  • Documented One Health concerns and observations in rural Chitwan district among subsistence and small commercial farmers.
  • Provided sterilization and vaccination services for street dogs repnd the environment. Many families share their orted by Kathmandu citizens to control dog populations and rabies in Nepal.


“In Nepal, there is little distinction between the domains of people, animals, aimmediate living spaces with livestock and live in homes that expose them to outdoor elements. These conditions necessitate a One Health approach to addressing any medical or public health issue.”

“This photograph was taken in Dolakha district in Nepal. Our team is in the process of managing and containing a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in the district. Though eradicated in US, this disease has devastating economic impacts on communities through production losses in cattle and buffaloes. The village sanitation conditions after the earthquake facilitated the ease of spread from one family farm to another.”

This internship has challenged my training as a veterinary student and pushed me to integrate socioeconomic considerations into my everyday approach to medicine. Complex public health problems in countries like Nepal require collaborative efforts and sustainable partnerships with local organizations to elicit change, but the same principles have application in countries like the United States.

This experience has further strengthened my interest in international public health medicine, and equipped me with the confidence to take what I have learned from UT’s VPH program and apply it in the field and in the workforce.

VPH student BreeAnna Dell poses with a Nepali woman.

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Chloe Ashley

Protecting the Health of the Public through Environmental Monitoring

Concentration: Health Policy and Management
Location: Oak Ridge, TN
Agency Name: Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation- DOE Oversight
Agency Type: State Agency
Semester: Spring 2014

Major Projects:Chloe Ashley poses in a hazardous materials suit

  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Cell Research- Oak Ridge, TN
    Conducted research and produced a document for the Oak Ridge Reservation Communities Alliance assessing the potential health impacts of the new low-level radioactive waste disposal facility could have on Oak Ridge residents.
  •  White- tailed Deer on the Oak Ridge Reservation- Oak Ridge, TN
    Assisted in collaring white-tailed deer on the Oak Ridge Reservation in order to track the movements and determine the home rang of the deer on and off the reservation. GIS data obtained from this project allows researchers to determine what contaminated areas the deer are coming in contact with, which ultimately impacts human health.sink
  • Ambient Surface Water- Oak Ridge, TN
    Aid in monitoring and collecting surface water samples relative to the Clinch River and some of its tributaries, which have been impacted by the Department of Energy operations. Dissolved oxygen, pH, hydraulic conductivity, and temperature data are obtained at 7 sites throughout the Oak Ridge Reservation once a month.
  • RadNet Drinking Water- Oak Ridge Reservation
    Assist in collecting drinking water samples at 5 water treatment plants associated with EPA’s RadNet Drinking Water Monitoring Program, which are then analyzed for radiological contaminants.
  • Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF) Water Monitoring- Oak Ridge, TN
    Monitor surface water at the existing low-level radioactive disposal facility on the Oak Ridge Reservation. Monitor and record dissolved oxygen, hydraulic conductivity, pH, and temperature at various locations throughout the facility. This ensures no contaminates are released into the water supply.Boy Scout project
  • Boy Scouts of America: Badge College- Harriman, TN
    Aided in the Environmental Science merit badge college. Developed and presented 2 activities pertaining to environmental science, one dealing with land pollution, the other dealing with applicable terms in environmental science.


Chloe Ashley examining a tranquilized deer

Personal Quotes
  • “Before moving forward with a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility, it is imperative to research the health impacts and inform citizens on these issues.”
  • “Biological monitoring is essential. In order to protect human health, it is necessary to monitor animals that are consumed for potential contaminants.”
  • “Water monitoring is essential to public health, both drinking and surface water. Without clean water, the health of the public diminishes.”


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Melanie Fowler

Proton Therapy as a Cancer Treatment Option for Employees at Clayton Homes

Concentration: Health Policy and Management
Location: Maryville, TN
Agency Name: Clayton Homes
Agency Type: For-profit organization – Manufactured housing
Semester: Fall 2015

Interior of Clayton Homes

Major Projects

  • Identified best practices for incorporating proton therapy as a cancer treatment option for employees.
  • Developed and implemented a preventive health communication campaign encouraging employees to cultivate a relationship with a primary care physician through preventive care visits.

Photo of the main entrance of Clayton Homes

Personal Quotes
  • “Working with the benefits department at Clayton Homes was a great opportunity to branch out of my wellness world and experience a for-profit organization from a different lens.”
  • “When someone is diagnosed with cancer, they deserve the opportunity to be given a choice for their treatment option. I enjoyed contributing to the policy development process that would give employees this choice.”

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MAJ Todd French, DVM

Developing Programs and Adapting Process Design to Increase Community Outreach for Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT)

Concentration: Veterinary Public Health
Location: Knoxville, TN
Agency Name: Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT)
Agency Type: Non-profit
Semester: Spring 2015

Major Projects:

  • Developed the HABIT Student and HABIT Pro programs to fully integrate vital community stakeholders into HABIT.
  • Redesigned the HABIT Pet Team evaluation process to better represent program needs and achieve updated program goals.
  • Restructured HABIT’s online, multimedia, and digital presence to improve organizational efficiency and outreach.

“Through this internship, HABIT provided me with the tools to influence program dynamics and help refresh the organizational image in the local community.  My experience will undoubtedly help me cultivate similar programs for the military.

“As an active duty military veterinarian with a human-animal bond specialty, I will be tasked to develop, oversee, and provide consultation for animal assisted intervention programs on military installations worldwide.  The program development, evaluation, community assessment, and public health outreach techniques I learned through the MPH program and HABIT internship have unequivocally provided me with the tools to successfully accomplish this mission.”

-MAJ Todd French, DVM

Personal Quote


“The Dog Bite Prevention program is one of HABIT’s most important community health outreach efforts.  The program is delivered as a 45-minute presentation to the most susceptible target audience, school aged children.  This photo was taken shortly after celebrity canine ‘Shelby’ and I gave a presentation to second graders at AL Lotts Elementary.”

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Mohammed Al-Wadei

Prevalence and Risk Perception of Hooka, E-Cigarettes, and Marijuana Use in Knox County

Concentration: Community Health Education
Location: Knoxville, TN
Agency Name: Metropolitan Drug Commission
Agency Type: Non-profit
Semester: Spring 2014

Major Projects:

  • Developed and administered a short survey on hooka, e-cigarettes, and marijuana use to over 600 Knox County residents over the age of fifteen.
  • Assessed the prevalence of hooka, e-cigarette, and marijuana use in Knox County.
  • Assessed risk perception of cigarettes, hookah, e-cigarettes, and marijuana in Knox County.
  • Conducted literature review on the health impacts of hookah and e-cigarettes using national and international literature.

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img_yjungYoonwon “Yoonie” Jung

Increasing Diversity Awareness among Team Members of the University of Tennessee Medical Center

Concentration: Health Policy and Management
Location: Knoxville, TN
Agency Name: University of Tennessee Medical Center
Agency Type: Non-profit
Semester: Summer 2014

Close-up of Yoonwon "Yoonie" JungMajor Projects:

  • Identified key diversity related questions that need to be addressed in new team member orientation.
  • Developed diversity training materials based on the key questions identified for new team member orientation.
  • Developed an evaluation survey form for one of the diversity training modules.

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Danielle Yugo

Identifying and Mapping Location Wells for Emergency Preparedness

Concentration: Veterinary Public Health
Location: Knoxville, TN
Agency Name: Knox County Health Department, Environmental Health Division, Epidemiology
Agency Type: Local Health Department
Semester: Summer 2012

Major Projects:

  • Used GIS mapping to combine current data using the layout of hydrants in Knox County to identify areas of data gaps, roads where wells are most likely the source of water based on the maps and lacking utility water, and neighborhoods for targeted surveying
  • Developed survey to find out where unknown wells are located in Knox County
  • Inputted new information daily received from phone calls using Survey Monkey and GIS mapping, including water quality data matched to wells associated with KCHD well testing for the past 5 years
  • Using Excel, reorganized database and added fields for full addresses (5,001 residences) to allow ease of access and ability to search and add locations
  • Put together a media blitz, updated the current media packages, and prepared an e-postcard for use during Clean Water Week via Facebook and an article in the Metropulse, Knoxville News Sentinel, local radio stations, and television
  • Generated map with the utility data, unconfirmed wells (based on lack of utility data), and confirmed wells
  • Created postcard to be mailed to 3,550 potential well water users to continue building database

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Azieb Kidanu

Concentration: Community Health Education
Location: Knoxville, TN
Agency Name: Knox County Health Department
Agency Type: Local Health Department
Semester: Spring 2012

Major Projects:

  • Developed a resource guide for the Knox County Health Equity action team as a resource for achieving equitable health outcomes for all community members.
  • Co-presented a talk for twenty-three students titled, “Can Racism Create Reproductive Disadvantages” at the University of Tennessee 7th Annual Black Issues Conference to raise awareness about how the stress of racism impacts the lives of African-Americans.
  • Created evaluation forms and assisted with registration for the TENNder Care Youth Health Conference to educate middle and high school youth about nutrition, physical activity, mental well-being, social skills, and sexual health.
  • Conducted HIV testing and education in the community.
  • Developed discussion questions, activities, and speaker selection for the Public Health Workforce Development Series, and internal staff training for the health department.


After completing her internship and graduating with the MPH degree, Azieb was hired at Knox County Health Department as a Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Public Health Educator. She currently works as a center manager for the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

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Veronica Mays

Educating and Empowering Parents of At-Risk Youth at the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA)

Concentration: Health Planning and Administration
Location: Los Angeles, California
Agency Name: Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA)
Agency Type: Non-profit
Semester: Summer 2011

Photo of Veronica Mays working with HOLA teen group.

Veronica (center) leads HOLA teens in nutrition education. Image courtesy of HOLA.

Major Projects:

  • Developed health education materials in Spanish and English for parents on topics such as discipline, nutrition, child development stages, learning to advocate for their child, and time management for youth.
  • Compiled a community resources guide and an emergency services guide for staff to connect youth and parents to health-related services.
  • Led adult education classes to promote health and empower parents to support their children’s education and health.

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Siteiyia Ntete

Community Education and Mobilization to Improve Environmental Health in Kenya, Africa

Concentration: Community Health Education
Location: Mlolongo, Sophia, and Bondeni,
Kenya (25 km from Nairobi, Kenya)
Agency Name: Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in the Slums of Africa
Agency Type: Non-governmental organization
Semester: Summer 2011


“Even for me who comes from Kenya, I was taken aback by the condition people are living in. Despite the abundance of food in the world, it is sad that a lot of children are malnourished in Mlolongo due to lack of sufficient and necessary food for their growth. The mothers however do not have the knowledge and resources to know what can be substituted for the nutrients to supplement the lacking food.”

~Siteiyia Ntete

Major Projects:img_sntetefamily

  • Conducted a community needs assessment through home visits and interviews; found major acute concern was environmental health (waste dumped in streets, lack of community ownership of clean community, negative health effects of pollution, lack of planning)
  • Collaborated with concerned youth in the area (later named the Synergy Action Group); met with industry stakeholders to enlist support; received resources; coordinated meetings; provided strategy guidance to implement a two-day community-wide clean-up
  • Developed and presented four workshops for mothers and community members on topics of faith, public health prevention, and recycling.
Personal Quote

“My advice (for international health promotion) is to be culturally sensitive and competent. You have to do your homework before hand as people expect you to come with solutions. Even for me, being a Kenyan, I still had to do my homework. You have to be flexible, and open minded. If things don’t go as planned, just go with the flow and always be prepared to improvise as needs and situations change rapidly. We had to wait for an hour one time for a workshop because people are laid back and don’t go by the same pace we are use to here in America. Patience is the most important virtue. In addition, accept criticism, be non-judgmental, and learn from other people. Otherwise enjoy and help make the world a better place.”

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