Field Experience

2014 Global Public Health Internship Summary

The UM SPH Office of Global Public Health competitively awarded over $103,000 in internship funding for summer 2014, to a group of 32 Masters level students, representing 5 SPH departments. The students worked in 18 countries:

  • Bolivia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru
  • Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe
  • Scotland
  • Israel
  • China, India, Mongolia, Thailand, Vietnam

Office of Global Public Health - funded student, Kate Helmick, discusses her summer experience in Thailand for Michigan's World Class.

World Map

Student Reports from 2014 Summer Internships

Elizabeth Wetzel, Epidemiology (International Health), Thailand

Elizabeth Wetzel in Thailand"Analysis of Breast Cancer in Southern Thailand"
Prince of Songkla University Epidemiology Unit, Hat Yai, Thailand

What Elizabeth did: "My overall objective of this internship was to gain experience working in public health in a middle-income country. My specific research goal was to create a case-control study and administer a pilot study."

Personal development achieved: "This internship solidified the fact that I want to work in international health. I have a better understanding of the frustration that comes with international work and I have decided that I am well suited for this career choice. I am patient and optimistic. This internship has enhanced my excitement for international health."

Margaret Traeger, Health Behavior and Health Education, MongoliaMargaret Traeger in Mongolia

"The Nationwide Micronutrient Assessment of Mongolian Adults"
Harvard-Mongolia Initiative Office of the Health Services University of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

What Margaret did: "My main projects while in Mongolia were two-fold. The first was developing a fortification proposal for vitamin D fortification of schoolchildren’s milk.This wholly independent research project required me to write a 20 page proposal for the fortification of milk with Vitamin D for schoolchildren in Mongolia, including the background of the issue, a fortification model, a cost-effectiveness analysis, a feasibility assessment, behavioral aspects of the issue, a monitoring and evaluation plan, the approach and program components of the fortification plan, and a summary.Once that was completed, I also created a survey to determine Mongolians attitudes toward fortification, as well as a focus group plan to get more in-depth information about Mongolians current understanding of fortification.With the exception of holding focus groups, this project was completed successfully.The second project was developing an updated training program, and executing that program, for Mongolian students and professionals."

Most valuable part of experience: "This internship has directed me to use my degree to improve population health through nutritional and behavioral interventions. I would also like to get my PhD in a Public Health field, and then teach what I have learned, and will learn, to teach future Public Health students. Without this funding, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my internship successfully, and I am incredibly grateful for that."

Katherine Aucott, Health Behavior and Health Education, Bolivia

Quality Improvement for Complex Chronic Conditions (QUICCC) in La Paz, Bolivia

What Katherine did: "Our team worked with diabetic, hypertensive and depressed patients in three public hospitals in La Paz. QUICCC works to create, implement and evaluate services for patients with chronic conditions in a number of countries. My goals were to familiarize myself with telemedicine and the Spanish language, expand car to underserved patients, and become skilled at interacting with diverse populations. I was able to meet all of my major goals throughout the summer. My knowledge of telemedicine systems and Spanish increased greatly. I also gained skills in effectively and sensitively interacting with patients of a different culture."

Most valuable part of experience: "I believe that my knowledge and skills, as well as my personal and professional growth, have all greatly expanded and developed through this program. I had a good deal of experience over the summer working in both hospital and government settings, which allowed me to not only increase my knowledge of those settings but also my ability to succeed in those environments. I developed professionally through my numerous interactions with doctors, patients, and government employees, all of whom had different standards and expectations for their working partners."

Katherine Aucott in Bolivia

Ian Lang, Health Behavior and Health Education, Kenya

International Peace Initiative (IPI) in Meru, Kenya

What Ian did: "I developed a list of learning objectives that focused on understanding the key determinants of health, interacting with diverse communities, and designing health promotion programs in a rural, low-income setting."

Most valuable part of experience: "Throughout this process, I was able to deliver a product for IPI, achieve my learning objectives, and also learn so much about myself. More specifically, the relationships I formed with women in the community taught so much about my values, my spirituality, and how I present myself." 

Michelle Long, Environmental Health Sciences, Peru

Michelle Long in PeruDIGESA, the General Directory for Environmental Health in Lima, Peru

What Michelle did: "My role in this project was to collect water samples, filter and analyze the samples and send the filters back to Michigan.” “Another project was to lead a class for the Peruvian College of Biologists on the detection and analysis of Helicobacter pylori in water samples."Michelle Long in Peru

Most valuable part of experience: "The sampling was one of my favorite parts of the internship because we went to many districts in Lima where I otherwise would not have visited. I saw the nicest areas and the poorest areas, and this helped me get a better idea of how people live and survive in Lima."

Sherry Yin, Epidemiology (International Health), Zimbabwe

University of Zimbabwe in Harare,  Zimbabwe

What Sherry did: "The goal of my project this summer was to collect data to assess tuberculosis (TB) treatment outcomes in patients in Harare, Zimbabwe and, in the process, help the National TB Control Programme (NTP) in updating its electronic registry system."

Personal development achieved: "The skills and knowledge I gained both in my courses and in preparing for this internship has helped tremendously during my time in the field. The epidemiologic methods classes gave me the foundations and the practical skills to conduct the research. I was able to build upon the theoretical knowledge by working with real data."

Career goals: "Upon completion of my MPH, I want to work on the ground in a program development or resource management capacity with government or nonprofit organizations. I would like to work in international or other resource-limited settings where help is most needed. This experience has both brought to light many of the challenges and reaffirmed my desire of working in global health." 

Shannon Patrick, Health Behavior and Health Education, Dominican Republic

Shannon Patrick in DR"Evaluating Family Planning Program at Clínica de Familia, La Romana, Dominican Republic"

Clínica de Familia in La Romana Dominican Republic

What Shannon did: "My project had two goals: research and practical use. As it was an evaluation, I wanted to make sure I was asking questions that would be able to help the clinic improve their family planning program. At the end of my internship I presented the findings of my research (and those of a different internal investigation I worked on about understanding pregnancy in teen mothers) to all the clinic staff."Shannon Patrick in DR

Impact: "As a result of my suggestions for improvement, CFLR is holding monthly meetings with all clinic staff that work with family planning (there was no form of formal communication within the clinic’s family planning program before) as well as addressing specific topics for improvement and/or clarification within those meetings."

Lora Campredon, Epidemiology (International Health), Thailand

Prince of Songkhla University in Hatyai, ThailandLora Campredon in Thailand

What Lora did: "I was given access to surveillance data from a 2008-2009 chikungunya outbreak in the Deep South provinces, which I then analyzed using R, software that I was also learning for the first time."

Most valuable part of experience: "This experience was a great learning experience and exploratory setting for testing myself in a new culture and setting.  I had never had the opportunity to work in Southeast Asia before, and this was a good way to get that experience while still in the safe haven of University of Michigan programming."

Background on GPHI Internships

Students in most UM SPH master's degree programs are required to complete an internship or some type of field experience between their first and second year. Many students focus their internship on health issues within international or internationally related contexts.

SPH students interested in finding a global health field placement should begin by working with their department advisor. Additionally, an annual funding competition is held each winter term for SPH students conducting global health internships.

Documenting Your Experience

We encourage students to document their global expeiences through blogging, photography and videos. Guidelines, resources, advice, and information for success in documenting your experience are online: