Knox County Tennessee

Student Experiences/Internships


Bridging Knowledge | Improving Health

students photo

The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) is formally affiliated with the University of Tennessee, Department of Public Health as Tennessee’s first Academic Health Department (AHD). The AHD is the public health equivalent to a teaching hospital, allowing students to apply public health academic preparation to the practice-setting. The AHD coordinator centrally manages all student experiences.

KCHD provides a select number of undergraduate and graduate students with high quality public health experiences. Students most often come from nursing, nutrition, public health, health policy, communications, epidemiology, child and family studies, kinesiology, pre-med, dentistry, and medicine. Opportunities may be available for other disciplines such as human resources, marketing, public relations, business, finance, and more.

Application process

We have a centralized application process, managed by the Academic Health Department coordinator.

  • To apply, students submit a completed application (including a resume and cover letter) to Jennifer Robbins. The application is a fillable pdf and requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Before filling out the application, right click the application and “save as” a pdf on your computer.  Next, open the pdf application on your computer and fill it out by typing directly into the fields.
  • Field supervisors will review applications and request a phone or face-to-face interview to discuss the project and student interests.
  • Students will be notified of acceptance or denial. Not all students can be accepted due to limited staff capacity or lack of match between student goals and organization needs.
  • Students who are accepted should communicate the start and end date, plus office hours to the AHD coordinator.
  • Applicants who are accepted will be required to complete additional paperwork and attend orientation.

For more information about internships or volunteer opportunities, please contact Jennifer Robbins, AHD Coordinator, at 865-215-5284 or email

Student Expectations

Student involvement is for the benefit of the student’s education. Students do not replace employees but work under close supervision of designated staff.

Students will:

  • Develop an understanding of the health department’s core services for disease prevention and health promotion in the context of the local public health system
  • Accomplish defined learning objectives in a particular area
  • Contribute to a project, program or service
  • Adhere to professionalism, policies and procedures


  • Student experiences are unpaid.
  • Students agree to follow all policies and procedures for the health department. 
  • With the exception of Public Health 101 and some volunteer opportunities, students must be enrolled as a current undergraduate, graduate, medical student, fellow or on a medical rotational assignment.
  • If receiving course credit, an affiliation agreement must be on file with student’s academic institution prior to start date.

During the internship

Near the beginning of the internship, the AHD coordinator provides an orientation to the health department, as well as schedules short observational learning experiences in areas of interest to the student. The preceptor oversees the intern’s day-to-day progress, provides support and guidance.


In addition to completing evaluation forms required by the school, the health department monitors the experience through the following procedures:

  • Timesheet. The intern sends the preceptor and AHD coordinator an excel timesheet bi-weekly to document hours completed, major activities, what was learned, and any concerns.
  • Midpoint check-in. The preceptor meets with the student around midpoint to discuss progress, concerns, and plans for the remaining time.
  • Final evaluation. At the end, the student fills out a short online survey to provide feedback to the health department. In addition, the AHD coordinator conducts a 30-minute exit interview with the intern and the preceptor (separately) to gauge what worked well and what could be improved. References or letters of recommendation may be requested upon successful completion of internship

Contact: Unless otherwise noted, applications and inquiries related to students should be directed to Jennifer Robbins, Academic Health Department Coordinator, at 865-215-5284 or click here to email Jennifer Robbins. Do not contact directors, program managers, or staff directly.

Public Health 101 provides short experiences (usually 30 minutes to 2 hours) for students and community members who are considering a career or degree in public health. The experience is tailored to your interests and needs, ranging from an interactive “what is public health” tour of the health department framed by the 10 Essential Public Health Services, to a staff interview in a desired career path, to an informative talk at your site tailored to your needs.

Internships are immersion experiences defined as 2 weeks or greater for current undergraduate or graduate students and usually required for degree completion.

Clinical rotations are usually a short 1-2 day clinical experience for nursing, nutrition, medical or dental residents from an affiliated academic institution, coordinated through a faculty instructor. A very limited number of Family Nurse Practitioner clinicals in Women’s Health are provided to students from our affiliated academic partners.

Class projects are structured, planned opportunities between a faculty instructor and a designated health department employee whereby students enrolled in a course apply specific course content to address a real program, process or issue. Also known as community-based service learning, UT public health and public health nutrition courses are the most common partners; however, other academic institutions have partnered for nurse leadership and public health capstone projects.

Research ranges from recruitment of participants for outside studies to conducting practice-based research at the health department. Sometimes an intern’s major project is to conduct research and other times students’ participate through a special topics or research methods course.

Volunteering includes current and prospective students and community members. A small number of internships are available for volunteers who are current students. The distinction between a typical intern and a volunteer completing an internship is the volunteer does not receive course credit, and in some cases, is majoring in a slightly less relevant field but is considering changing majors or pursuing further public health education and wishes to rule that path in or out. In general, internship priority is given to students in the relevant major who are required to complete the internship for graduation. Certain one-time events are available for volunteers, and everyone is encouraged to participate in a Public Health 101 opportunity (see above).

Need to report a public
health emergency?

Call 865-215-5093

Have Questions? Call: (865) 215-5555 Email:

On the first Wednesday of every month, all KCHD offices and clinics are closed in the morning for staff in-service. On these days, the main location (140 Dameron Ave.) will open at 11 a.m. and the West Clinic (1028 Old Cedar Bluff) will open at 11:30 a.m.

Clinics will also open at 10:30 a.m. (Main location) and 11 a.m. (West Clinic) on the following Wednesdays: April 17 and July 17. All other offices will open at 8 a.m.