Online Program

Student practicums in international health: Cervical cancer prevention in Nicaragua

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 12:35 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

Daniel Allen, MPH, International Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
An international practicum is a planned, supervised and evaluated practice experience that is essential to developing field-based skills and understanding cultural influences on public health. Grounds for Health is an international NGO that practices visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) to screen for cervical cancer in underserved communities. The primary objective of my internship was to ensure successful VIA training and implementation to hospitals and clinics in rural Nicaragua. To this end, I gave community talks, developed training and fundraising materials and coordinated information between US offices and Nicaraguan staff. A secondary objective was to conduct a qualitative research project on men's attitudes towards cervical cancer screening. The student practicum integrates classroom learning with public health work environments. For example, I applied theories of behavioral health toward my research and the final report was used as a guide to institute men's education in future GFH trainings. My experience allowed me to observe and learn from professionals in the field; each of whom offered unique cultural and professional experiences. The area of Nicaragua where I was stationed is now a self-sustaining, independent center for VIA screening and localized cryotherapy. The practicum was the most influential aspect of my MPH program and provided me the experience, confidence and drive to pursue my career goals in international health.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how the international practicum experience influences future career paths. Explore how the practicum experience compliments the skills acquired during the MPH studies. Articulate the cross-cultural and workplace challenges in a public health setting within a developing country. Develop an understanding of the range of international health practicum opportunities.

Keyword(s): Practice, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I completed an international practicum as a graduate student in Boston University's school of public health. The practicum consisted of an internship with the NGO Grounds for Health, which works to prevent cervical cancer. I am presenting as a member of the BUSPH Panel.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.