Public Health Students Pursue Internships Around the World
ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 1, 2019) – It was another busy summer and spring for the School of Public Health students who opt to head overseas for real-world work experiences and internships. Six students were in Uganda, Ireland, China and Haiti conducting projects ranging from maternal health to environmental pollutants and seemingly everything in between.
Jenée Russell and Elizabeth Stephenson, both second year MPH students, worked in Uganda at the Engeye Health Clinic and the clinic’s newly opened Maternity Center. Co-founded by a graduate of Albany Medical College, the clinic’s mission is to provide health services and education to those living in rural Uganda. Russell and Stephenson worked with clinic staff and Village Health Teams on community education initiatives, such as teaching villagers about HIV and Tuberculosis. They also measured the outcomes of the clinic’s health initiatives and assisted with program planning as well as program implementation and analysis. Additionally, Russell and Stephenson helped the Maternity Center staff establish standard operating procedures – which included observing midwives as they delivered babies.
“I’m hoping to become a medical doctor, and I knew that I would need shadowing and clinical experience that can be hard to get,” said Russell, who launched a blog about her time in Uganda. “I knew that at Engeye, I would be working side by side with clinical staff, midwives and others, and that I would also get to have a lot of patient interaction,” she continued.
“Going to Uganda gave me a global health experience that I hope to apply internationally and even domestically,” said Stephenson, who looks forward to a career in global public health. “I learned a lot of about cultural competency and global health overall that can be applied in a lot of different capacities.”
Russell and Stephenson both encourage students seeking international experience to apply for the various scholarship opportunities available. “We were fortunate to receive multiple scholarships, including Initiatives for Women, the Great Dane Scholarship and Bridge the Gap, which really helped,” Russell said.
Dustin Moore, an MPH candidate, worked as a research intern at Salaso Health Solutions in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland. Salaso, a tech start-up that develops technology to aid physical therapists and other health care providers with musculoskeletal injuries, relied on Moore to develop an evaluative framework for a software solution that could help individuals with musculoskeletal injuries find the best form of treatment. He also worked with clients in the field and conducted market research, which included a trip to the renowned Enterprise Ireland Market Research Centre.
“At start-ups, most projects are all-hands-on-deck, and the team here [at Salaso] has been incredibly dedicated and supportive in creating a great work environment where everyone works as a team to provide the best service possible,” Moore said. “Being able to bring my expertise in program evaluation and knowledge of the laws and regulations in the US has helped me develop as a professional,” he continued.
In the spring, online MPH student Maeve Brennan conducted an internship at University College Dublin (UCD). She worked with the college’s health initiative, Healthy UCD, to promote healthy lifestyle choices amongst the campus community through various programs and events. She coordinated & promoted UCD’s participation in Ireland’s Marchathon step challenge and played a major role in the college’s Wellbeing Week, Wellness Wednesday and the launch of the Resilience Tree, an area of campus designed to be a space for people to reflect on their mental health and provide advice to others.
“I think it’s important for people to get out of their comfort zone and experience different people, places and things,” Brennan said. “It has opened my eyes to my own strengths, and the power of diversity. I hope to use my experience abroad to bring a new perspective to the field of public health. And work to give everyone an equal chance to live a long happy life”
As part of SPH’s long-standing partnership with Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Tia Marks, a second year PhD student studying environmental sciences, spent her summer in China conducting research on the health effects of environmental tobacco smoke, household exposures and regional air pollutants.
“I have worked with both associate professors and students here to gain skills in data analysis, publication, and how to carefully conduct large scale studies,” said Marks. “All of this while experiencing a new culture, meeting new people and occasionally seeing some of the amazing sites China has to offer,” she continued.
Mark’s research at Sun Yat-sen was part of a large-scale cohort study on environmental health, led by professor Guang-Hui Dong.
Online MPH student and Nurse Practitioner Kathleen McDonnell completed part of her internship in Haiti this past spring. She developed & administered a community health survey, developed community health education materials and participated in a 3-day medical mission.