The MPH Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) @ Meharry

The Integrative Learning experience (ILE) is a culminating experience required for all MPH students at Meharry. It is an opportunity for students to synthesize and integrate knowledge acquired in coursework and other learning experiences and to apply theory and principles in a situation that approximates some aspect of professional public health practice. Faculty will utilize the ILE to assess whether students have mastered public health knowledge and whether the student can demonstrate proficiency in the required competencies.


Integrated learning means combining what you learn in the classroom, whether it is theory or technique, as a solution to real-world problems. There are numerous options for the ILE project. The specific details will be determined in partnership with the faculty supervisor. The ILE report documents all aspects of the project. MPH students will identify 5 Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) competencies from the list of 22 MPH Foundational Competencies and discuss how the ILE project provided an opportunity to demonstrate mastery.


The ILE project planning and preparation activities span the final two semesters of the program, ending in completion of the Integrative Learning Experience course. The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) affords public health programs wide latitude in how they meet this accreditation requirement.

ILE Project Options at Meharry

The Meharry Medical College MPH program elected to provide students with two options to satisfy this requirement:

ILE Option for Public Health Practice Synthesis of Competencies

Option 1:

Comprehensive Exam Students complete a case-based written comprehensive exam. A faculty team drafts the case to provide an opportunity for students to show mastery of at least 5 competencies. The ILE coordinator and faculty use a rubric to assess the student’s ability to synthesize competencies into a methodologically sound written document that is responsive to the case. Students who opt for option 1 are supervised by the ILE Course Director.

Option 2:

Applied Project with Final Written Report and Oral Presentation

(research, health education, evaluation, policy, community engagement)


Students identify an applied public health project with the assistance of a faculty supervisor. Competencies are discussed and finalized with the help of the supervisor. Students are required to draft a paper documenting the project, complete a competency self-assessment, and give a poster presentation to the MPH community. The ILE Course Director and Faculty Preceptor evaluate the final written document and deliverables to ensure the competencies have been mastered.


The ILE report is a high-quality written document that presents the details of the ILE project. Students should seek assistance and advice from the ILE Course Director and Faculty Preceptor to complete the ILE report. All ILE options require a high-quality written document.


The format and length of the ILE report is at the discretion of the Faculty Preceptor. There will also be an oral presentation required to complete the ILE.


The ILE is completed during the second year of the program. All core courses should be taken before students begin the ILE. Students who select option 2 will work with their chosen Faculty Preceptor to identify a minimum of 5 CEPH competencies to guide the ILE project. An MPH required course is designed to support students to complete the ILE,

  • Integrated Learning Experience I (Fall semester, 2nd year)

  • Integrated Learning Experience II (Spring semester, 2nd year)

Integrative Learning Experience Overview

The Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) serves as a capstone to your public health education program at Meharry Medical College. The ILE integrates students’ academic interests, professional interests, and goals and provides an opportunity to conduct in-depth research or analysis within the context of a mentoring relationship with their ILE Preceptor. Under the guidance of an ILE Preceptor, the ILE provides students an opportunity to synthesize public health education foundational objectives and program competencies to develop a high-quality written paper and accompanying presentation material that are appropriate for submission to journals, presented at scientific conferences, or offered to relevant public health stakeholders in the community. The ILE is divided into four phases: Pre-ILE, ILE Planning, ILE Prep, and ILE Final Project.

Introduction to the Pre-ILE Phase should take place in the Spring semester of the first year. During the Pre-ILE phase, students have an opportunity to consider their future ILE project. As students continue with their academic plan, they will continue to work with the ILE Course Director on advising to solidify their ILE option.

ILE Planning activities should take place during the summer after a student’s first year in the Public Health program. Students who select option 2 (applied project) should be working to identify a Preceptor and continue with regular advising from the ILE Course Director. Students can use the ILE proposal, or they can brainstorm other ideas with the ILE Course Director. When ready, students complete the ILE Update Form and submit it to the ILE Course Director for final review.

The ILE Preceptor and student establish a mutually convenient schedule of check-in meetings to insure regular communication with each other. The ILE Course Director should check regularly with both the student and Preceptor regularly to discuss the necessary project management activities and agree on a project work-plan and timeline. Students will be ready to begin writing the ILE paper during the following semester.


Some student projects will need more supervision than others depending on the complexity and scope of the project. Students, their ILE Preceptor, and ILE Course Director will gauge how much effort and contact is required to keep the project moving forward within the agreed upon timeframes. Students and ILE Preceptor’s will establish expectations in each check-in call/meeting about what students will accomplish before the next check-in call/meeting.


During this ILE preparation phase, students and preceptors will accomplish the following:

  • Student and ILE Preceptor clarify selected option

  • Student conducts literature review and performs all background reading; collects data and engages in data analysis. All research and scholarly activity required for the project must be completed during this phase.

  • With oversight from ILE Preceptor, students develop and submit IRB applications, if necessary, for the project.

  • Student and ILE Preceptor conduct regular check-ins that ensures progress of the work and supports mutual accountability.

  • ILE Preceptor should promptly respond to student inquiries and promptly reviews and returns and student submissions within a mutually acceptable timeframe.

  • When the student is nearing completion of the research and scholarship activities and is ready to begin writing/formatting, the student prepares the ILE Clearance Form.

  • ILE Preceptor reviews the ILE Clearance Form, provides feedback on any aspect of the project, including public health competency selection and updates to competencies selected in the ILE Proposal Form.

  • When the ILE Preceptor is satisfied that the student is ready to begin writing the ILE paper, ILE Preceptor signs the ILE Clearance Form and forwards it to the ILE Course Director

During the Integrative Learning Experience Final Project Phase (final semester of program), the ILE Preceptor will continue in the mentoring relationship with the student as outlined below. The ILE Course Director will oversee submissions, answer questions, and facilitate ILE presentation scheduling at the end of the semester.


ILE Preceptor and ILE Course Director will:

  • Review drafts of any written submissions and provide prompt feedback.

  • Work with the student to create a high quality final written paper.

  • Guide students on the integration and synthesis of their selected public health education competencies in their scholarly work and writing.

  • Provide guidance on the development of an oral presentation of the ILE project.

  • Facilitate the final oral presentation by being present at the presentation, introducing the student, and facilitating audience questions at the completion of the presentation.

  • Evaluate the student’s performance, final written paper, the project presentation, and the achievement of the selected competencies.

Preceptors are selected and approved based on their experience in public health practice (an MPH or five years of public health experience) and their willingness to provide mentorship, guidance, and oversight of the student’s Integrative Learning Experience.

The Role of the Preceptor

  • Clarify objectives and com for the ILE project.

  • Assist in the development of the Practicum Educational Plan.

  • Oversight of IRB application (if necessary).

  • Make necessary adjustments to student’s experiences.

  • Provide professional guidance and supervision.

  • Ensure student is on track with schedule and timeline for the project.

  • Review drafts of any written submissions and provide prompt feedback.

Benefits of Being a Preceptor

  • Your expertise and knowledge will be shared with a student in their preparation as a public health professional.

  • Shape future Public Health Practitioners.

  • An enhanced perspective and fresh ideas.

  • Continued service to the Meharry Family!

What are the qualifications to be an ILE supervisor?

ILE Preceptors must be a current MMC primary or adjunct faculty member and be approved to serve as an ILE Preceptor by the SOGS Division of Public Health Program Director. Faculty should have subject matter or methodological expertise that aligns with the student’s project. In addition, he or she should be familiar with the expectations for the ILE process and have sufficient time to devote to supporting the student through the project development, writing phases, and dissemination activities.


What types of ILE projects can students complete?

Students can choose one of the following ILE project options:

Option 1: Written comprehensive essay exam aligned with five CEPH competencies. The comprehensive essay is the student’s response to a Public Health Case study developed by MPH faculty. Student submissions must be high quality professional writing using the appropriate technique and formatting.

Option 2: A high-quality written paper documenting an applied public health experience. Students will present their work to MMC faculty, staff, and stake holders via poster presentation.


Can students change the type of ILE project after they have begun the planning process?

Students can change the focus of their ILE projects any time during the ILE planning phase. However, once an ILE Preceptor is identified, and the ILE preparation activities have begun, the student must commit to the project or risk delay in completing the program.


What is the time commitment for ILE Preceptor?

The ILE supervisor-student relationship spans two full semesters. The time commitment for both phases of the ILE (ILE Prep and the ILE course) will vary according to various student and Preceptor factors. Typically, the more time invested in the initial stages of the preparation phase by both student and supervisor may save time later in the project.


What are the quality expectations for the final ILE paper?

The final ILE paper should be of high quality. This will require significant review and editing in the final weeks of the ILE course and both students and ILE supervisor should plan accordingly.


Can ILE Preceptors be co-authors on manuscripts/presentations?

Yes, they can. A published paper is an excellent deliverable for the ILE, but it will not suffice as the only indicator of competency proficiency. The order of authorship must be determined and communicated with the student in writing during the ILE preparation phase.


Whom should I contact for ILE-related issues during any phase of the ILE process?

Please contact ILE Course Director: Dr. Earl Lattimore with any ILE questions or issues, including ILE planning, process, forms, ILE Preceptor or student concern, ILE paper, or ILE feedback.