Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is an international public health agency with 100 years of experience in working to improve health and living standards of the countries of the Americas. It serves as the specialized organization for health of the Inter-American System. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization and enjoys international recognition as part of the United Nations system. PAHO offers unpaid summer internships to provide practical experience to emerging public health leaders.

  • Internship: June to August:  8-week minimum; 10-12 weeks preferred  
    • Gain hands-on experience in a specific focus area of public health under the supervision of technical health professionals
    • Develop understanding of the comprehensive field of public health and PAHO's role in technical cooperation as the WHO Regional Office of the Americas
    • Potential to work directly on projects and tasks, participate in weekly "Brown Bag Lunches" with technical advisors to gain exposure to their unit's operation and programming in the Americas, meet with external organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank, Organization of American States, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund
  • Location:  Washington, DC and possibly PAHO Country Offices
  • Desirable Intern Skills/Qualities/Experience
    • Spanish fluency
    • Abilities in planning, organizing, problem-solving, and decision-making
    • Detailed-oriented
    • Public Health knowledge with courses in health policy
    • Knowledge of Latin American countries
    • Coursework in international health and/or public health
    • Experience designing and using databases
    • Research skills (including literature searches on the internet)
    • Computer skills (Excel a must, Access an asset)
    • Ability to create and work with listserves and other online tools
    • Team-player, self-driven, initiative-taker
    • Good communication skills (written & oral)
  • Application Process
    • See PAHO website for ideas on internships of interest.  Possible fields include:
      • AIDS
      • Communicable disease
      • Non-communicable disease
      • Child and maternal health
      • Community health
      • Environmental health
      • Immunology
      • Vaccines
      • Epidemiology
      • Nutrition
      • Policy and governance
      • Telemedicine
    • Prepare a 1-2 page statement describing the work you would like to do and the skills/qualities/experience that make you a desirable candidate; be sure to include your Spanish level
    • For more information (including application): Check out the PAHO Internship Program websit

Language Immersion (Spanish +)

There are many language immersion programs throughout the world. PennMed students have been particularly interested in Spanish language immersion in the Caribbean, Central America, and Latin America but students could also study Portuguese, French, or other relevant languages.  Those combining language instruction with exposure to local medical or public health programs may qualify for support by The Center for Global Health.  The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) maintains an impressive list of programs, some of which may have funding opportunities.  You may wish to identify a program of interest on AMSA's website, or on the list below that includes PennMed student reports (click on the year), or from another source. 

Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowships

The Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship (CRF) provides support for one year of full-time clinical research training. The main goal of the program is to encourage medical students to pursue careers in clinical research (includes etiology and pathogenesis of disease, therapeutic interventions, clinical trials, epidemiological studies, disease control, and operations and implementation).  Interested medical students must be willing to take a year out from school and conduct fellowship research and training at one of the participatilng sites. 2012-13 students have already been selected. A new program is being organized in the fall of 2012 to determine what opportunities will exist for 2013-14. Historically, there have been positions in Botswana, Ghana, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe but this could change significantly. You can be placed on a listserv to receive updates about the program by clicking here.

  • Application and Additional Informationnot currently available -- see above to be placed on listserv
  • Penn Med Students Reports & Advice2010, 2009, 2008

Fogarty Global Health Scholars

This fellowship offers a mentored one-year clinical research training experience at selected developing country sites for graduate level U.S. students in the health professions.  Fellowship stipends will be approximately $18,000-$20,000 per year (adjusted to cost of living expenses at the foreign site) with an additional $6,000 per year for travel, insurance, and educational materials. No provision for loan forgiveness is involved in the compensation package.  The program is funded jointly by Fogarty International Center and the Ellison Medical Foundation.  A few points to keep in mind:

  • At the website you can learn about specific research being done at each of the sites.  Over the years, there have been opportunities in Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Haiti, India – Chennai & Vellore, Kenya, Mali, Peru, South Africa – Durban & Pretoria, Russia, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, & Zambia.  Check the site for the latest information.  Fellows must do their work in one of the NIH-funded research projects that is ongoing at the site.
  • In the first two years of the program, approximately 40% of all applicants have made it to the finalist stage and approximately 25% of all applicants are offered fellowships.  NIH/FIC is looking for generally outstanding candidates and they believe that all of their sites offer excellent clinical research opportunities.  In your  application, there is no need to select a particular site or area of interest.  This will come later, if you become a finalist.
  • Your ability to describe the strength of your interest in global public health and clinical research, along with a well-written letter of recommendation from a faculty member at Penn who knows your qualifications will enhance your application.  Please note that you are welcome to visit the Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Programs Office, Suite 100 Annex, Stemmler Hall (room 104) for advice on preparing a strong application. 
  • Application and Additional Information: click here
  • Penn Med Students Reports & Advice: 2009, 2006

International Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN)

Penn medical students have an opportunity for a clinical epidemiology experience in an international setting by making arrangements to study with faculty from one of 64 Clinical Epidemiology Units (CEU) in Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and South America. These CEUs are affiliated with the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Penn, through the International Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN). Working with faculty members at Penn and at the international site as joint preceptors, students join the host institution’s seminars and conferences, work through guided readings, attend selected meetings with their host institution preceptor, and work for a limited time on one of the ongoing research projects being conducted during training experience.

INCLEN was created in 1980 as a project of The Rockefeller Foundation, by a group of health specialists who became concerned about the widening gap between public health and clinical medicine; growing government expenditures on sophisticated services that were not very cost-effective; and the limited availability of good scientific evidence to guide clinical decision making. INCLEN’s mission, formulated in 1980, was to train faculty at medical schools in developing nations to think more broadly about the determinants of health, in order both to better understand the impact of disease on people and to improve the health status of local populations. One of the training centers identified by the Rockefeller Foundation was the Clinical Epidemiology Unit at Penn, which since has become the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. INCLEN’s first phase provided training to faculty at 26 selected developing-country institutions and led to the formation of CEUs at these sites.

As these CEUs matured, INCLEN began to shift its focus from infrastructure development to support of important, collaborative research. INCLEN cultivated research excellence through a continuing education and capacity-strengthening program that included short courses, site visits and one-on-one mentoring. With seed grants, INCLEN supported faculty members in the development of original epidemiological studies.

Concurrently, INCLEN moved into its second phase of training, during which the first generation CEUs providing training to additional CEUs. Sixty-four CEUs function now in twenty-six countries throughout Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia (India), and South America. The multi-disciplinary faculty includes clinical epidemiologists, health social scientists, biostatisticians, and clinical economists, each of whom believes that fighting disease in an age of limited financial resources depends on integrating the principles of clinical epidemiology into his or her own practice.

Penn Dermatology Global Health

The goal of the Penn Dermatology Global Health program, developed in 2008, is to provide and improve dermatologic care in developing countries through teledermatology, clinical care, education, and research.  Opportunities for all Penn medical students (MS1-4) to participate in research and/or assist in expansion of services and training of health care workers in teledermatology.  In addition, clinical opportunities may be available for MS3/4 students.  To learn more about Penn Dermatology Global Health activities, visit their webpage.

Director: Carrie Kovarik, MD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Dermatopathology, and Infectious Diseases
University of Pennsylvania

Last updated: October 1, 2010

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