PAHO internship expands DMU student’s insights on healthy aging, health care and public policy

Brooke Turek, D.O.’25, completed an eight-week virtual internship with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) from May 23 to July 15, 2022. Brooke was selected to participate in this internship as part of the Department of Global Health’s Distinguished Global Health Internships program. These internships are selective research opportunities that enable students to collaborate with researchers to explore global health research topics at various national organizations.

Below is Brooke’s reflection on her PAHO experiences.

I had a wonderful experience working with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). I worked with individuals from many different backgrounds and learned a great deal from their experiences. I participated in meetings, attended presentations with discussions, and worked on different projects related to global health in the Americas. In addition to learning about how healthy aging can be implemented in both public policy and health care, I grew in my communication skills.

Brooke Turek, D.O.’25

One project that I worked on was analyzing data from the ACAPEM-Basic course. This is the first level of a training program designed for health care professionals in the Region of the Americas as well as other countries to better provide sustainable care to the older population. From a large database, I worked on the report for the 2021-2022 year, which was then shared with public health officials from several countries.

Additionally, I collaborated on a paper with others from PAHO titled “Community-Based Programs as a Strategy to Support Older People’s Intrinsic Capacity and Favor Person-Centered and Integrated Care.” This paper focuses on how evidence-based community programs are crucial for improvement of intrinsic capacity in older adults. The paper also talks about adjusting health care systems to the unique needs of older adults, which is important for improving functional ability. We hope to have this paper published soon.

One interesting challenge with this research internship was that it was in Spanish. This was a unique opportunity for me to not only use Spanish in casual conversation, but also to use it when talking about global health projects. Furthermore, I spoke Spanish during Microsoft Teams meetings, and I occasionally had to troubleshoot when technology was not working well.

I am grateful to have grown in my Spanish-speaking abilities and have more confidence using it with patients in the future.

Along with improving my Spanish, I learned to be comfortable speaking up when I did not completely understand something. Having only eight weeks to complete my internship, there were some times that I needed further clarification about projects that the team had been working on for months. I learned to ask questions when necessary so that I could work as efficiently as possible and help out the team. Everyone was very kind and more than willing to help me.

I would encourage anyone thinking of applying to this internship to do so, and I would be willing to answer any questions that they may have. This experience has been great and will help me better serve our patient populations in the future.

Are you a DMU student interested in a Distinguished Global Health internship? While the internship at PAHO is no longer available, students can apply for internships at the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The application for the Distinguished Global Health internships for summer 2023 will open on Nov. 11, 2022. For more information and how to apply, please visit the Department of Global Health’s Pulse page. If you have any questions, please contact the department at

We also invite you to join us via Zoom for the Office of Research’s Friday Research Seminar on Nov. 11 at noon, when the 2022 global health interns will present the research from their internships. Register for the seminar here.

Scroll to Top