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Internship Spotlight: Rachel Wang, MPH ’24 (Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Global Health Concentration)

October 03, 2023

Research Fellow, Romania National Institute of Public Health, Bucharest, Romania; Funding: NCI/NIH funding through the Cancer Epidemiology Education in Special Populations (CEESP) fellowship

What is your career goal?

In the short term, I’m hoping to pursue my PhD degree in cancer epidemiology to conduct outcomes research. Ultimately, I aim to collaborate with multidisciplinary teams to translate research findings into clinical practices and public health initiatives to improve health outcomes.

What were your duties/responsibilities during your internship?

I analyzed the trends of breast cancer mortality, incidence, and prevalence, and explored possible explanations for observed trends of breast cancer mortality and morbidity in Romania by region and type of residence.

What did you take away from your experience as an intern? What was the value of the internship to you?

This global health research experience offered me valuable insights that extend beyond the academic knowledge. I was able to work in a diverse global setting that exposed me to different cultures and multidisciplinary local collaborators. I became adept at adjusting research methods and expectations to meet the dynamic nature of global health challenges. I also learned to address difficulties like limited resources and infrastructure deficits. Most importantly, I developed epidemiology research skills by designing studies, analyzing data, and interpreting findings, which I will be able to transfer to my future research.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your internship? What was the most challenging aspect? The most surprising aspect?

The most rewarding aspect of my internship was having an amazing local mentor guiding me to learn about the Romania health care system. I also really enjoyed my time living in Bucharest, especially the moments walking along the Dâmbovița River on my way to the institute and to the Airbnb. The most challenging aspect is that we experienced some delay in getting the secondary data. Therefore, I got to work on a different project while waiting on the data.

How did your first year at YSPH prepare you for this internship?

The MPH core courses, especially EPH 508, CDE 516, EPH 505, and CDE 534, provided me with a solid background in research methods and analytical skills. I also gained lots of help from faculty while creating my research proposal, applying for IRB approval, and preparing for the proposal presentations.

What would you say to a student who’s considering a similar internship?

Keep an eye out for more funding opportunities, both within and outside of YSPH. Reach out to different faculty members to learn about their research interests and talk to past research fellows or second-year students who have been trained with the same fellowship.

Submitted by Sabrina Lacerda Naia dos Santos on October 03, 2023