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2021 Implementation Division summer interns reflect on internship experience

2021 Implementation Division summer interns reflect on internship experience

September 8, 2021

The UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s (FPG’s) Implementation Division recently wrapped up its second annual Implementation Division Summer Internship Program, a paid opportunity for masters' and doctoral students. The program, which is designed to create a challenging and meaningful professional experience, exposes interns to implementation practice and research across a variety of fields and practice settings.

The three interns of this year’s cohort recently took time to reflect on their experiences in the internship program and answer a few questions. Here’s what they each had to say:

Caroline Chandler, MPH, spent the summer helping optimize elements of a Medicaid service model being designed by NC InCK. The service model, which aims to improve quality of care and reduce expenditures for children by integrating care across core child service areas, is expected to launch for families in Alamance, Orange, Durham, Granville, and Vance counties in January 2022.

How has this internship contributed to your professional growth?
This internship was my first formal exposure to implementation science. I have a background in evaluation, and I was able to draw on those skills to facilitate a quality improvement project in a practice-based setting. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to be exposed to a line of work that I can see being part of my career moving forward.

Was there anything challenging about the internship that led to your professional growth?
It can be difficult to jump into a complex project for a relatively short period of time and understand all the moving pieces. This internship challenged me to blend a variety of past experiences and apply skills in new settings to make unique contributions to the project. It also required me to grow in my ability to communicate very technical concepts to lay audiences.

What has the internship meant to you personally?
This internship exposed me to a wide range of activities that an implementation scientist may engage in. It gave me a window into a professional career path that blends many of my interests. I am so grateful for the mentorship and support I received from the NIRN and NC InCK teams!

What would you say to those applying for the internship program in the future?
This has been one of the most rewarding work opportunities I have had throughout my graduate school training. FPG is an incredibly supportive community, and everyone is eager to help you grow professionally.

 


 

Alana Gilbert spent the summer creating an equity assessment for the Implementation Capacity for Triple P (ICTP) tools and resources. Through conducting a literature review of existing equity assessment tools, particularly related to implementation practice, Alana identified key concepts―including community engagement, racial equity, and equity-centered design―that are integral to applying an equity lens in tool development. Upon reviewing literature and existing tools, Alana produced a proposed approach based on best practices, intended to be used during the planning, development, and dissemination of tools and resources through ICTP. The equity assessment is guided by community priorities and informed by equity-centered design thinking, which aims to involve impacted communities as decision makers throughout the design process. The assessment itself consists of steps to guide implementation support specialists in engaging community partners and applying an equity lens in tool development, as well as includes checklists, discussion guides, and resources to ensure tools are accessible, equitable, and user friendly.

How has this internship contributed to your professional growth?
Throughout the internship, I have increased my knowledge of implementation science in both practice and research, as well as enhanced skills to operationalize an equity lens. As such, this internship has allowed me to apply academic concepts from my Masters in Public Health (MPH) program to real-world settings, thus supporting my growth as a public health professional. Additionally, through ample networking and mentorship opportunities, I was able to connect with and learn from professionals in the implementation science field. Particularly, such connections provided insight, advice, and knowledge, as well as greatly contributed to a growing professional network as I pursue a career in public health. Moreover, I hope to present my work at local and national conferences in the next year and seek opportunities for publishing in implementation science-related journals and blogs.

Was there anything challenging about the internship that led to your professional growth?
During the internship, I had the opportunity to lead an ongoing professional development lecture for The Impact Center at FPG. As my first extensive presentation in a professional setting, it was a challenging, yet rewarding, experience. With the support of my mentor team and encouragement from the Impact Center, I enhanced my skills in public speaking, presentation planning, and applied learning.

What has the internship meant to you personally?
This internship has provided an exceptional introduction into the field of implementation science that has encouraged me to grow professionally, learn new skills, and engage in collaborative work.

Personally, it has opened new doors for exploring this field as a career and connecting with professionals to expand my network. I am especially grateful for the opportunities provided by The Impact Center, and particularly the relationships built with my mentor team: Sherra Lawrence, MA, Capri McDonald, MA, and Jessica Reed, MS. I am appreciative of their constant support, guidance, and encouragement throughout the internship.

What would you say to those applying for the opportunity in the future?
Take advantage of the great opportunities provided by the internship program, such as mentorship, networking, shadowing, and implementation science seminars. Ask many questions, forge relationships with those in the field, and jump right into the work!

 


 

Meera Kumanan spent the summer co-developing a pilot podcast series, titled “Implementation Science at Work.” The podcast features guests who work with systems, organizations, and communities to implement and scale up programs, with a special focus on the Triple P adoption, implementation, and scale-up in North Carolina. The podcast, which is intended for anyone interested in implementation work, provides tools and strategies to tackle health disparities and community outcomes through implementation by using the FPG Project as a model.  

Ultimately, Kumanan and her mentors aim for the podcast to uniquely leverage the power of storytelling and narration in building implementation capacity.
 
How has this internship contributed to your professional growth?
This internship allowed me to explore implementation practice both theoretically through seminars and workshops as well as in the real world through my project and shadowing opportunities. I gained a deep appreciation and passion for promoting equity and community ownership in implementation practice, and I plan to continue exploring this field and its opportunities. My project also provided me the unique opportunity to interview several professionals in the field, where I had the chance to ask questions about their work and seek advice they may have for those like me beginning their journey in implementation science. Their insight and my experience this summer have enriched my understanding of implementation science and provided me the skills needed in this field that I hope to continue honing.  
 
Was there anything challenging about the internship that led to your professional growth?
I hail from a stronger quantitative background, and initially struggled with the qualitative nature of collecting stories for the podcast. My mentor, Sandra Diehl, MPH, CHES, and the rest of the team (Will Aldridge, PhD, Devon Minch, PhD, and Capri McDonald, MA) were immensely helpful in guiding an initial skeleton of each episode. Through interviewing, reviewing recordings, and editing the clips into one cohesive episode, I gained an appreciation and the skills to build a compelling narrative to effect change. I am excited to continue exploring qualitative work in public health to supplement my quantitative background, and I believe that my summer experience is a testament to the power of storytelling, and I am excited for that storytelling to reach our podcast audience.  
 
What has the internship meant to you personally?
I am very grateful to this internship. It opened the doors to implementation science and practice, and not only sparked my interest in this field but also provided the skills needed to continue exploring implementation science. I felt very supported by my primary mentor, Sandra Diehl, who was always willing to answer my questions, provide advice, and connect me to colleagues in fields I was interested in. I am also grateful to rest of the team, Will Aldridge, Devon Minch, and Capri McDonald, who not only helped immensely with my project, but were also willing to share their experiences in implementation practice and answer my questions for professional development. I am thankful to have forged connections with various professionals throughout the field of implementation science at FPG who I continue to look up to and rely on for advice and insight.  
 
What would you say to those applying for the opportunity in the future?
Take advantage of all the opportunities this internship has to offer! FPG and The Impact Center were incredibly supportive and provided opportunities to network with other divisions, shadow implementation projects, and attend seminars. Many are always willing to help or provide professional advice, even through their busy schedules. For example, when I was curious about implementation practice in policy―a subfield that was unrelated to my internship project―my mentor connected me with those working in that space who were willing to spend time answering my questions. My internship experience was phenomenal, and I am proud of the work I was able to contribute to the FPG project.