SPH Office of Public Health Practice

SPH Office of Public Health Practice

When Zaineb Bohra goes to Detroit Metro Airport this summer, it won’t be to catch a flight. A second-year epidemiology student, Bohra will instead be starting a three-month internship in the airport’s quarantine station, one of ten new stations that opened in airports across the country last year in response to growing concerns about the spread of diseases such as SARS, monkey pox, and avian flu. At Metro, Bohra will help design a system to collect some of the “day-to-day things that happen here,” says Gabe Palumbo, a public health advisor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who directs the quarantine station. “Things like the number of ill passengers coming in and what were their symptoms and diagnoses. We also do animal inspections on a routine basis, and we help process immigrants and refugees. We’re on the front lines.”

Palumbo says he’s delighted to be able to draw on Bohra’s expertise, because she can help his staff do things they might not otherwise have the time or resources to do. Bohra, whose primary interest is infectious disease, says the experience “really will give me valuable insight into how the federal public health stations work and how we as public health officials will contain and prevent the entry of diseases into the U.S.”

Bohra’s is one of 36 paid internships that School of Public Health students are undertaking this summer under the auspices of the school’s new Office of Public Health Practice. Associate Dean Matthew Boulton, who directs the office, says it’s the first phase of a centralized and systematic attempt to develop internships schoolwide.

Besides facilitating internships, the Office of Public Health Practice trains thousands of health care professionals a year through the office’s two training centers, the Center for Public Health Preparedness and the Michigan Public Health Training Center. Recent training opportunities included a one-day session on radiological terrorism and emergencies and a symposium on zoonotics, attended by nearly 600. Boulton’s office also oversees the school’s preventive medicine residency program as well as a scholarship program for health care practitioners, and it approves public health–related training for physicians in Michigan.

“Part of the school’s mission is to give back to the state,” Boulton says. “There’s never really been a conduit of access for public health training, and we’re trying to open that up.”

­-Photo by Peter Smith

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