MPH, Environmental Health Sciences
My internship was carried out at the World Trade Center Health Registry (WTCHR) of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). This health registry collects and analyzes data on the long-term physical and mental health outcomes of those who were directly exposed to the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks (referred to as “9/11”). The internship experience, which was a part of the Health Research Training Program (HRTP) of the NYC DOHMH, comprised two projects: the Staten Island Landfill and Barge Worker Study and a study of the pediatric mental health outcomes associated with exposure to 9/11.
The Staten Island Landfill and Barge Worker Study focuses on the physical and mental health outcomes of the 4,480 WTCHR enrollees who conducted 9/11 recovery and clean-up efforts at the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island or on the NYC Department of Sanitation barges, which facilitated the transport of debris between the World Trade Center site and the recovery operation on Staten Island. Through key informant interviews, the research aims to describe the workers’ occupational exposures in order to assist in creating the Staten Island Job and Exposure Survey that will be administered to the registry-enrolled Staten Island workers.
Some of my responsibilities were: conducting telephone interviews with key informants; transcribing interviews; performing qualitative analysis using Atlas.ti software; synthesizing and writing descriptions of themes, quotes, and conclusions from the interviews to be included in a qualitative paper; assisting in designing survey questions; and delivering a presentation on the study with my mentor to directors and staff of the WTCHR.
The second component of this internship was conducting a systematic literature review, which entailed compiling and comparing epidemiologic studies on NYC children’s mental health outcomes associated with 9/11 exposure. Tasks completed included: researching articles in Pub Med and Medline, using Endnote software to maintain records of references, comparing various studies, identifying knowledge gaps, suggesting necessary public health policies, and using SAS to analyze WTCHR data on children’s mental health effects associated with 9/11 exposure.
Aside from being involved in the two projects, the internship also required attending the HRTP seminars and workshops, attending confidentiality and distress protocol training, and attending WTCHR research roundtable meetings.
MPH, Social Behavior/Community Health
My time spent at the Albany County Department of Health was focused on a five year grant, Building a Healthy Nation- the Strategic Alliance for Health, awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grant requires an innovative approach to address cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes in the community. The goal is to create healthier communities through sustainable, evidence and practice-based health promotion. This grant looks to policy, systems and environmental changes in underserved communities. Prior to my arrival, a consortium comprised of community stakeholders was formed to act as the governing body of this grant. As the end of grant year one was fast approaching, my role was to help with the baseline data collection to assess the community. I assisted in collecting data via interviews, focus groups, surveys and windshield tours. We assessed schools, community based institutions, healthcare facilities, worksites and the community at large. My time at ACDOH was a valuable experience as I witnessed the development of a new community consortium. I was also able to further develop skills in conducting interviews and focus groups while interacting with influential community stakeholders.