Sarah Hamid - American Somoa
Internship location: Faga’alu, American Samoa
Career goal: To work in global public health to improve the health of underserved populations through evidence-based interventions
I traveled to American Samoa on a Downs Fellowship and collaborated with a research team from Brown University on a community health worker diabetes control and management intervention. My primary goal was to determine whether the community health worker model was associated with a reduction in costly hospital encounters. Every day, I took the brightly colored island bus to the LBJ Tropical Medical Center, where I abstracted hospital utilization data from the medical record system.
Value of experience:
My internship gave me the opportunity to address a pressing public health problem and to apply my classroom learning of epidemiologic research methods. Carrying out an independent research project also enhanced my awareness of the challenges and limitations of public health research, especially in a low-resource setting. Furthermore, my internship provided both a practical and a cultural experience, offering insight into the health care system in American Samoa and the ways in which cultural beliefs influence perceptions of health and illness.
I had a rich cultural experience in American Samoa. I ate Samoan food prepared in an umu (earth oven), hiked through the jungle, spotted whales off the coast and participated in National Health Center Week.