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ULM health studies students take to the community to gain hands-on experience

Published April 13, 2015

The University of Louisiana at Monroe Health Studies Department prepares students to enter healthcare management and marketing jobs through practicum experiences that engage them in meaningful on-the-job training under professional supervision. During the practicum experiences, students create projects detailing their work.

The projects are related to a vast array of services including, healthcare management, marketing, research, and leadership.


Dr. Jessica Dolecheck, program director of health studies said, “It has been remarkable to see how our practicum course has evolved over the years. Incredibly, our students get to participate in on-site activities that enhance learning, and they are able to explore their interests while applying what they have learned in classes to real-world employment.”

During practicums, students are asked to:

• Observe and actively participate in decision-making and strategic planning involved in program design, implementation and evaluation at the healthcare agency

• Perform all roles and responsibilities effectively demonstrating professionalism and a strong work ethic

• Identify organizational techniques for responding to pressures from social, political, regulatory, competitive and other external sources

• Explain the purpose of selected internal programs such as community education, employee education, and quality improvement, and describe it in relation to the organization

• Describe management styles observed and self-critique personal management style relative to site observations

• Apply techniques of problem solving and decision-making to one of the organization’s problems and present solutions in a presentation to administrative personnel and department of health studies faculty


Dr. Paula Griswold, practicum coordinator for health studies says, “The practicum experience allows our health studies majors to get real-world experiences in healthcare. I am always amazed each semester with the richness of the projects our community partners provide.”

During the spring 2015 semester, ULM health studies seniors have been with healthcare professionals throughout the community for their practicum journeys.

Nicolas Alford of Hammond is currently working in the hospital division researching and reporting to hospital supervisors on issues surrounding obesity, based upon evidence-based practices from around the state. He is also assisting in organizing the anti-smoking campaign, “Kick Butts Day.”

LaShundra Alexander of Gibsland is working with a local child advocacy agency to coordinate a major community event focused on childrens’ health.

Brittany Daigle of Pierre Part is helping to create joint commission readiness packets and patient surveys at a local surgical center.

Emily Helmick of Moorefield, W.Va., is also working in the hospital division. Helmick is performing comprehensive hospital safety compliance inspections.

Lindlay Howell of Winnfield is assisting a community health center. Through this practicum, Howell is learning how to use electronic health records systems and about case management patient referrals.

Geneva Hodge of West Monroe is managing the front office of an area family medicine clinic.

Chevas LeSaichere of Marerro is working at a local dental office developing education and marketing materials. LeSaichere is also learning claims process procedures.

Walter Roberts of Minden is learning electronic health records systems, and assisting the CEO of a local pain center in planning and organizing renovations for converting office space into patient rooms.


Hillary Stubleski of West Monroe is working with a hospice agency performing patient chart audits and developing a hospice volunteer program.

Many students are gaining more than field experience at practicum sites.

“As a new faculty member to health studies, I am delighted with the number of our students who are offered jobs based on their practicum experiences,” said Stacy Starks instructor of health studies.

The ULM health studies program prepares students for entry-level management jobs in non-clinical areas of healthcare, or entry into graduate programs.

The program also offers personal attention, multidisciplinary learning, practicum, close ties to a major teaching hospital, and cutting-edge education relevant to healthcare.