Brianna Muñoz


Practicum site: Connecticut Oral Health Initiative (COHI) in Hartford (2019)

Project description: Entitled “A Practicum in Oral Health Policy and Advocacy,” my project consisted of working with the Connecticut Oral Health Initiative (COHI). The host agency has been structured as a nonprofit organization with the mission of improving access to services, increasing quality of care, and promoting health equity for all patients (COHI). Specific project tasks evolved as different bills were proposed during the 2019 legislative session. The measurement of outcomes was based upon fulfillment of the 10 Essential Services of Public Health. Throughout the semester, I advocated on behalf of oral health equity, promoted interprofessional practice, built constituency, engaged legislators, analyzed health policy, and educated community members.

The most rewarding aspect of this applied public health practicum was that it enabled me to take on an active role in the legislative process. Thus far in my profession, I have had the perspective of a dentist. However, this experience gave me the opportunity to take on the perspective of a public health professional and to translate theory into practice. Considering House Bill 5627: An Act Extending the Period Children May Retain Dental Insurance Coverage under their Parents’ Insurance Policies, I submitted written testimony in support of the bill, delivered oral testimony at the public hearing, and fulfilled a leadership role in the advocacy campaign. Following the practicum course, I continued my involvement with COHI and have become a partner of the organization.

Some advice for future students…I suggest looking for a host organization early since this process may take some time. My first few attempts at finding a project did not work as I had hoped, but this did not deter me from continuing on the search to find an organization with a mission that would be a good fit. It wasn’t until I voluntarily attended the CPHA Advocacy Training that I met a presenter who later introduced me to the Executive Director of COHI. While some practicum experiences may be more straightforward, I had to independently network and build connections first before I was able to find a host organization that I could work with to develop a project. The practicum experience is truly what you make of it.

Brianna Munoz
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