The Distinguished Global Health Internships offered by DMU’s Department of Global Health are highly selective research opportunities that enable students to explore global health research topics at various organizations. Students have opportunities to work with researchers on projects such as conducting systematic reviews to create evidence-based educational materials for worldwide distribution.
The internships will take place virtually this summer.
Christelle Eliacin, D.O.’25, M.P.H., will complete an internship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Christelle’s interest in public health developed toward her last year as an undergraduate student at the University of Central Florida, where she received her bachelor’s degree in biomedical science.
“I became more focused on wanting to understand the social determinants of health and the impacts it had on overall wellbeing. I believed that it was important to have knowledge on other factors that could be contributing to chronic illnesses that are prevalent in the United States,” she says. “Additionally, I decided that I wanted to become an advocate for minority patients in my community who are facing adverse effects because of these social determinants and help them improve their overall health. That’s what led me to pursue a master of public health at the University of South Florida.
“I had the opportunity to participate in the ABCD research project that yearly collects data from different free health clinics in the Tampa Bay area to analyze clinical characteristics of uninsured patients,” she adds. “There is a definite need to provide more resources and funding for clinics serving the uninsured and disadvantaged population. I also believe that we need to become advocates for those in the community who can only rely on free clinics or may have trouble accessing health care. This experience gave me a chance to see the necessity of understanding and providing for those in need.”
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christelle had a chance to work with the Florida Department of Health to collect population data. She saw firsthand whom the COVID-19 virus was affecting and the impact it had on the community.
“My past experiences allowed me to shape what kind of physician I want to be in the future. I plan to combine my growing knowledge and research on the social determinants of health to help patient populations who are disadvantaged and underserved in my community,” she says.
Christelle’s internship with the CDC will be in the Climate and Health Program. “I believe that the environment can have a huge impact on overall wellbeing, management of chronic conditions and quality of health care obtained. The internship will allow me to dive deeper into the topic of environmental disparities and how that can contribute to health,” she says. “I am excited to work with the CDC to not only get a better understanding of the geographic and structural determinants of health but to hopefully play a role in advocacy with environmental policy for the underserved/disadvantaged community. I hope to provide awareness on the relationship between public health and medicine and use my knowledge on these determinants of health to provide quality care to my future patients.”
Brooke Turek, D.O.’25, will complete an internship with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). She is the incoming president of the Global Health Student Club at DMU and has been involved in global health since she was an undergraduate student at Bethel University, where she received her B.S. in biology.
“For many years, global health has been something I have enjoyed being involved in,” she says. “In college, I was part of an organization called GlobeMed at Bethel University. Our partner organization was in Uganda, and together we created a long-term health initiative that focused on the economic development of youth in a rural village. Our project aimed to teach youth the skill set to generate an income through baking along with other agricultural and livestock initiatives. I was fortunate to be able to travel to Uganda and help get this project started. I am very grateful for that experience, as it allowed me to see how there are many different aspects to community health including socioeconomic factors, education, access to resources, etc. Overall, this experience cemented my desire to stay involved in global health as I continued to pursue a career as a physician.”
Brooke is excited to continue her work in global health during the PAHO internship. “I will be working within the Healthy Life Course Unit, which looks at developing opportunities to improve overall health outcomes of aging communities in Latin America. From my experiences, I have learned that addressing barriers to health care requires a comprehensive evaluation of why those disparities occur in the first place,” she says. “I look forward to working toward this goal in the summer with others from PAHO.”
Lexis Wedell, D.O.’25, will complete an internship with the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). She has had an interest in global health since she was an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she graduated in 2020 with a B.S. in microbiology and certificates in mathematics and global health. As part of her global health curriculum, she traveled to Uganda to learn about agriculture, health and nutrition. Throughout the two-week program, she visited different levels of health centers, including the most basic Village Health Teams, Regional Centers and the Mulago National Referral Hospital.
“At each health center, I witnessed the ways our environment shapes human health. From community members providing education on finding safe water to the cases of malnutrition and vector-borne disease, to births complicated by distant travels on unpaved roles, I developed a greater appreciation for how our environment shapes human health well before becoming a patient,” she says.
Lexis is eager to continue this discussion within the context of the United States during her internship at the USGCRP. “I am optimistic that my contributions to the policy-informative resources created by the USGCRP can provide a more comprehensive understanding of how a changing climate impacts human health,” she says.
Given her interest in pediatrics, Lexis hopes to do a project with a focus on children’s health.
“I am excited to continue exploring my interest in public health and foster interprofessional development while working with professionals across the member federal agencies. I hope this experience helps me become a more well-rounded physician in the future, capable of seeing patients both as individuals and global citizens in an ever-changing environment.”