Last week, I started my internship at the Greater Valley Area Health Education Center (GVAHEC) and am already learning and doing more than I expected. The center is located on the same campus as LifeBridge Resource Center and LIBRES (Legal Immigration-Based Resources and Education Services). The partnerships between LifeBridge, GVAHEC, and LIBRES are clear. For example, if an individual comes in needing food/clothing, help with housing, and legal help with their citizenship status, they would first come through the LifeBridge resource center. There they would have access to clothing and a food box. They would then come to GVAHEC, where I work, for a transitional housing application and sit with a resource counselor to learn about their options. After that appointment, they would next meet with someone from LIBRES, and learn about their options related to their citizenship.
Although I am only in my first week, I am already working on four different types of projects and taught a week of classes at Family Health Centers on Fire Safety across Phoenix! Coming in to this internship, I thought my role would be based mostly on clinical interventions since I am an EMT and like helping in a hands-on manner. I am learning through this internship that there are other ways to make a difference. For example, in my epidemiology course, we learned about primary, secondary, and tertiary preventions, and through this public health internship I will actually be doing all three. On the primary intervention level, I am teaching classes to kids about various health risks like Firework Safety and Bike Safety as well as developing my own curriculum on Staying Safe in the Sun. In the realm of secondary intervention, we help people who are struggling with their bills by helping to pay for their utilities and prescription co-pays in the hopes that assistance will help them stabilize their finances. In this role, I sit with members to learn how they are struggling and help offer our resources. On the tertiary level, when individuals are facing eviction, we help connect them with shelters and transitional housing programs.
Public health is not only about taking vitals and using stethoscopes. All of these roles that I am playing help our community. On my first day, a woman came in who was living out of her car with her two boys. Because of this, one of the boys had a heat stroke from being out in the Arizona sun all day and had to go to the emergency room. We helped the mother complete an application for transitional housing, and she is staying at a hotel until she is accepted. Housing, utilities, prescriptions, and insurance are all related to having a healthy lifestyle, and at GVAHEC, we are giving people and families in our community support to an array of interconnected factors that are important to having a healthy and stable life.
To learn more about my internships, follow these links: