This summer I have been fortunate enough to intern as a Student Research Assistant at Brown University’s School of Public Health. While at Brown I was involved in research projects within the Center for Health Equity Research and the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. In general, my goal for the summer was to gain exposure in the field with the hope of providing myself with as much of an all encompassing experience as possible. Being a Health and Human Physiology major I have some exposure to public health professions but due to the lack of public health courses at Skidmore my knowledge has been somewhat limited. It was important to me that I use this summer going into my senior year as a way to identify and solidify my interests, and I am extremely thankful to the Skidmore Summer Experience Fund for allowing me to pursue this opportunity.
As a Research Assistant in the Center for Health Equity and Research (CHER) I worked on two studies pertaining to the effects of positive psychology/ acceptance and commitment therapy in adults with elevated depressive symptoms and high body mass indexes. On a basic level both of these studies were looking to see how positive psychology/ acceptance and commitment therapy affect one’s motivation to exercise on a regular basis. While at CHER I primarily interacted with study participants as I guided them through the study protocol. In the office I gave the study orientation presentations, collected height/weight/BMI measurements, ran walking graded exercise tests, administered questionnaires, calibrated study equipment, scheduled participant appointments, and attended to and answered many questions. Additionally, I was also directly involved with the intervention portion of the studies, attending weekly sessions at a nearby YMCA where I was present to answer questions, troubleshoot logistical problems, and observe.
My work at CHER also included creating a study manual centered around general health and wellness to be used as an alternate protocol at a later date. This project required that I do some personal research into various aspects of overall health and wellness in order to create study materials and handouts to be given to study participants. In total I created 25 pages of informational handouts and assisted in creating a 45 page protocol manual. I worked closely with the Project Coordinator who was my primary supervisor, attended regular meetings with the Principal Investigator, and assisted in training other summer interns throughout the summer.
As a Research Assistant at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) I worked on multiple studies involving the effectiveness of very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNC) and medication assisted treatment (MAT) for individuals with substance use disorders. My work for the VLNC project involved administering phone screens to determine participant eligibility, conducting weekly participant visits, administering study materials, and recording study data. My work for the MAT projects involved entering data into an electronic database, transcribing meetings/videos calls, attending Opioid Task Force meetings, conducting phone questionnaires, and various other office related tasks. Although my work at CAAS was a bit more scattered than my work as CHER it provided me with a unique opportunity to gain experience in two areas of research which I had no previous experience in and this has no doubt been valuable.
I am so happy to say my experience at Brown University’s School of Public Health has been nothing but positive. Over the summer I developed great relationships with my supervisors and coworkers. I thoroughly enjoyed that once I was acquainted and familiar with the office I was able to function independently yet I always felt supported if I had questions or needed assistance. When I return to Skidmore I am excited to share my summer internship experience with the Skidmore community in the hopes of stimulating a greater interest in Public Health.