New public health fellows will learn in the field

This spring, a group of 10 to 15 sophomores and juniors will take interdisciplinary classes about public health, do fieldwork and obtain internships through the new Global Health Fellows Program.

The fellowship, which is an offshoot of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs’ Global Health Initiative, will allow students to combine new courses in the Global Health Studies program with field-work and internships around the world, said Kaveh Khoshnood, program advisor and Global Health Studies faculty advisor. Yale College Dean Mary Miller asked Khoshnood and other Global Health Studies professors to create the fellows program in response to undergraduates’ increased interest in global health, Khoshnood said.

“This is the first formal academic program to meet the growing need for courses and internships in global health,” he said.

The program was announced on Oct. 1. On Tuesday, more than 60 students hadalready signed up for its Classes*v2 page. The organizing committee is currently planning to accept 10-15 fellows, Khoshnood said.

Betsy Bradley, Director of the Global Health Initiative, said the program aligns with both student interests and University President Richard Levin’s global vision for the University.

Khoshnood and Bradley said they hope the program will benefit not just the Yale students involved, but also the host countries.

Although details have not been finalized, program organizers said they would like the fieldwork component to last between eight to 10 weeks. To fulfill this requirement, students could take internships in areas ranging from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to NGOs to local organizations overseas, Khoshnood said.

“We don’t want this to be a short ten-day, spring break thing. We find that those would be inadequate, those are too short,” he said. “We are looking into programs for eight to 10 weeks, to have significant and meaningful immersion into a global health setting.”

Three of four students interviewed said they thought the fieldwork component was the main draw to the fellowship.

Shatreen Masshoor ’12 said she thinks the program, and especially the internships, will allow students to gain hands-on public health experience in ways they would not have been able to until after graduation.

Esete Kabtamu ’12 said she is excited about the opportunity to work with professors from a variety of fields and backgrounds.

The program is open to all majors, Khoshnood said, because a diverse set of skills is required to solve Global Health problems.

Each of the students interviewedis pursuing adifferent major:African studies, biomedical engineering, political science and psychology.

Bradley said that compared to similar programs at other universities, this fellowship is a better approach to public health education.

“Our goal is to create something that cuts across all the major disciplines,” she said. “That is what we need in public health.”

Applicants must submit a transcript of classes, a short essayand participate in an interview.

Applications for the program are due Nov.15, 2010.

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