Amy Wong, University of Georgia
This content was created by an EHS intern to describe intern experiences. It has not been revised or edited to conform to agency standards. The findings and conclusions are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SUPEH Intern, Summer 2013
The Summer Undergraduate Program in Environmental Health (SUPEH) internship provided me the opportunity to become immersed in the many aspects that comprise environmental health. Each day brought about a different challenge that allowed me to apply my understanding and learn more about the different areas in public health. I was assigned to the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) for my main project and developed a field guide for the environmental health officers to use when entering information about outbreaks into their database. Along with the Operations Manual and the worksheet used to enter the data, I became familiar with the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). Reviewing the VSP Operations Manual and the NORS Manual demonstrated how comprehensive food and water codes are as well as the scope of what is covered in environmental health. To stress the importance of proper hygiene practices to the general public, I wrote a script for a public service announcement to be played during the ship embarkation period.
Under LT Jasen Kunz, I began a literature review of the relationship between chloramine and occupational asthma in swimming pool settings. This information will be used by states to further develop their research on pool chemical safety. The information I gathered about this issue is emerging and will play a role in future revisions of the Model Aquatic Health Code. Before the internship, I had not given much thought to the importance of chemical safety in the pool environment, but I quickly discovered its importance for the health of both workers and the general public.
In addition to my ongoing projects, I attended journal clubs, speaker presentations, and field trips with the other interns. Each week focused on a different theme of environmental health, ranging from air and water to food and the built environment. The presentations delved into topics that I had been introduced to in school and allowed me to appreciate the ubiquity of the subject matter.
Field trips around Atlanta were themed with the weeks and allowed me to see the variety of establishments involve public health. With the SUPEH interns, I shadowed food and pool inspections, toured a poultry processing facility, and visited a quarantine station. I also traveled with VSP to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to shadow inspectors on two cruise ship inspections. These field experiences were some of the highlights of the summer, because it illustrated how professionals work on a local, state, and national level to keep people safe and healthy. Although the scale of each of the operations varied, they all had core similarities in the management of public health and safety.
The SUPEH internship has been an extraordinary experience that has shown me how the field is both rewarding and varied. Similarly, I gained a good idea about the programs initiated at CDC. Still, I am amazed by all the work that is done at CDC, although there is so much I have yet to learn about. Overall, this internship has been an amazing learning experience that introduced me to a supportive network of individuals who guided the direction of my career goals. It has also given me a base as I develop my future in the field of public and environmental health.