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IIP-MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research
Acornhoek, South Africa; Agincourt, South Africa (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Summer
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Partner Institution/Organization Homepage: Click to visit
Restrictions: Princeton applicants only
Fact Sheet:
Dept Offering Program: IIP, International Internship Program (IIP) Program Type: Internship
Language Prerequisite: No Program Features: Community Service, Field Work
Degree Level: 2 First year Ugrad, 3 Sophomore, 4 Junior Time Away: Summer
Housing options: Student Responsibilty with support from IIP and/or Host Organization Program Group: International Internship Program
Program Description:
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About: The MRC/Wits Agincourt Unit is based in the rural northeast of South Africa and, together with Wits Rural Facility, is fast becoming an internationally renowned rural research knowledge hub. The Unit has enjoyed the support of its host communities for over 25 years. The LINC Office (stakeholder engagement office) of the site has coined the phrase "building a research-smart community" to describe its work. Two placements have been established for IIP interns, with preference for interns to come on placement concurrently.
Intern Responsibilities:
The interns would immediately be put to work on small to medium size projects that can usually be completed within 8 weeks. The nature of the projects change each year depending on the needs of the current research and community outreach program; however, previous projects have included creating village fact sheets for community distribution, contributing to major publications summarizing past research, assisting with the annual census preparation, performing research on epilepsy in Africa, and using excel and code to manipulate and clean massive data troves. The supervision received throughout this internship is excellent and there is almost always flexibility in choosing between a few projects, within the context of what is needed. It may seem as if each day is different from the rest, and this is often the highlight of one’s experience. There will be opportunities to sit in on rural health and ecology lectures from extremely knowledgeable faculty. Interns will also be given time to observe existing research projects directly in the field and to get to personally know the principal investigators and project site managers of internationally funded research. Interns often find themselves working within a diverse office staff and living with students from all over the world. Living in a homestay for at least a week is highly recommended and is a defining part of the experience. This internship is extremely balanced, from the eye-opening office work to once-in-a-lifetime out of office experiences.
IIP candidates with interests in community engagement research, global health, and epidemiology are encouraged to apply. Knowledge of graphic design, excel, and Microsoft SQL provides more flexibility in project choice. IIP candidates should have a willingness to learn a few words in the local language XiTsonga.

Previous work responsibilities (in the words of a past intern): Intern #1: My first project was called Community Feedback.  It involved taking the previous year's raw census data and making village-specific fact packets with information on births, deaths, socioeconomic status, etc.  I made packets for roughly 25 villages.  This information was then presented to the villages at community feedback meetings.  I also collected data from evaluation forms that villagers fill out at the meetings and analyze the results. Another task I had was called the Tertiary Admissions Program.  I collected the documents needed to apply to universities for high school students.  I supervised the students who come to the Agincourt office to apply online, since they do not have internet access at home or at school.  When I was not working on these projects, I taught chemistry to 12th graders at a nearby high school. Future projects included inquiring into why some residents opt out of public health research initiatives. Intern #2: For weeks 1 and 2, I spent my time in the lab and the clinic in Agincourt working with patients alongside the nurses there. My responsibilities were to simply assist the nurses in any way I could, which included taking blood pressures, assisting with Ultrasounds to measure the Carotid artery and abdominal fat, and also shadowing Cardiologists who'd come in from Johannesburg and Cape Town. For week 3, I spent my time in the office in Acornhoek, editing an article for publication. This work included reading through the article, ensuring that the data was consistent, and checking to see that the article met the standards required by the journal the research team wished to publish it in. Furthermore, I also spent time with the medical students going to home visits to check in on patients who'd received care and perscription medicine, as well as going to the hospital to interview patients in the maternity ward. I also designed and facilitated Supervisor Leadership Training to prepare supervisors for the upcoming launch of the census. For the fourth week, I spent much of my time working on the census launch. This meant ensuring that all necessary documents were updated and reprinted for the fieldworkers. During this time, I also began a research project on epilepsy and cognition. In week 5 and for the rest of my internship, I continued research on epilepsy and cognition within the framework of Africa. The purpose of this research is to create an accurate and updated review (which could be published) of research done in Africa narrowly, but around the world, broadly, on the relationship between epilepsy and cognition. The end goal is to be able to design a study that further helps us to understand this relationship and also allows us to see whether epilepsy or impaired cognition comes first… I'm interested in both clinical medicine and medical research from a social perspective and this internship has given me the opportunity to see the rewards, but more importantly, the challenges that come with doing research with human participants. It's been an eye opening experience and has served to prepare me for the work I'll be doing some years from now.

This internship is offered in partnership with the Program in Global Health and Health Policy and can be used by GHP juniors for completion of the GHP Summer Research Requirement (please check the appropriate box on your application).

Dates / Deadlines:
This program is not currently accepting applications. Please consult the sponsoring department's website for application open dates.
This program is currently not accepting applications.