DMU Student Selected for Global Health Internship at Global Change Research Program 

The Distinguished Global Health Internships offered by the Department of Global Health at Des Moines University Medicine and Health Sciences 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. 

Swati Vattem, who’s completing her first year in DMU’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program, will complete an internship with the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Below she shares her motivations for pursuing the internship. 

Briefly Describe Experiences That Sparked Your Interest in Global Health

I received my Bachelor of Science in neurobiology and psychology along with a certificate in global health from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2022. Though my interest in global health has been long-lived, it flourished during my undergraduate studies. I was amazed by the multitude of different topics global health encompassed and how these topics could give me a broader view of medicine and well-being.  

During my time in Madison, I also volunteered with people from different demographics, which demonstrated to me how marginalized communities face greater challenges when receiving quality health care.  

I became interested in the intersection between climate change and health during a class I took while completing my certificate. I felt as though climate change was widely known but not necessarily understood. I was amazed by the number of ways climate change could impact health and how deeply its effect is interwoven with other social determinants of health.  

As a future physician, I think it’s imperative to study climate change because of its profound impact on human health through the spread of infectious diseases, food and water security, and extreme weather events. Understanding these connections allows me to be a better physician and advocate for my patients.  

Why Were You Interested in This Internship at the USGCRP? 

After coming to DMU, I knew right away that the internship with USGCRP would provide me with a rewarding experience to learn more about climate change and its effects on human health.  

One instance I remember was visiting India and noticing the air quality there. What would have been regarded as worse-than-poor air quality in the United States, causing people to stay indoors and mask up, in India people were walking around normally and enjoying their day-to-day lives. It piqued my interest in how the air quality affected people and how it compares across the globe.  

I also am interested in seeing the effect of climate change on vulnerable communities, as they are disproportionately affected and can have more severe health outcomes.  

What Do You Hope to Learn? 

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with different researchers and learn more about the impact of climate change on health. I am passionate about taking an international view of health to learn more and get a broader view of health outcomes. I hope that this internship will provide me with the tools to understand the impact of climate change on social determinants of health and how I can use that knowledge to provide better care to my patients in the future.  

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