The internship program at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is just two years old, but it’s already earning recognition for its contributions to the state. Georgia State University’s School of Public Health named DPH the winner of its Practicum Site of the Year Award during the school’s graduation celebration on May 9.
|L'laina Rash, head of DPH's intern program, accepts the Practicum Site of the Year Award from Michael Eriksen, Sc.D., dean of GSU's School of Public Health.|
The award recognizes a public health organization for its commitment to graduate students in public health and its continued support of practicum opportunities for students earning their Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees. Jessica Howell, practicum and career planning coordinator at GSU’s School of Public Health, said DPH was selected by the faculty for outstanding contributions to the community and for providing exceptional professional training for students.
“The Georgia Department of Public Health continues to be a strong partner of the school,” Howell said. “The Office of Science, Research and Academic Affairs serves as a conduit for encouraging our students to seek opportunities to gain firsthand experience of ‘boots on the ground’ public health.”
L’laina Rash, who leads DPH’s internship program in the Office of Science, Research and Academic Affairs, said the award means a lot to a program that aims to mentor public health students and strengthen the public health workforce.
“This is truly an honor,” she said. “It confirms that the program is reaching its goals.”
After launching its internship program in the spring of 2012, DPH began working with GSU in August 2012, placing its public health students in internship and practicum opportunities. In the spring of 2014 alone, DPH placed nine GSU students in internships relating to worksite wellness, chemical hazards, health care-associated infections, respiratory diseases and accreditation of local health departments.
DPH has also hired three GSU interns as full-time staff members, one of whom is Manoj Rema, an immunization research epidemiologist. Before earning his MPH degree from GSU in June 2013, Rema completed his practicum with DPH’s hepatitis program. He said the experience he had as an intern gave him knowledge he could take back to the classroom, and also let him perform at a high level when he was hired as a full-time employee.
“I think DPH is very deserving of this award,” Rema said. “You gain very valuable work experience here. There is only so much you can learn in the classroom, but once you’re here, you are learning the real thing in real time.”