IH Major Interns in Tanzania

NOVEMBER 29, 2012 - School of Nursing & Health Studies student Justin Jones (NHS’13) spent the fall semester interning at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

His internship took place as part of the Department of International Health’s practical experience abroad program.

HIV/AIDS Research

During his internship, Jones focused his research on an HIV/AIDS clinical trial entitled, “Reduction of Early Mortality Among HIV Infected Subject Starting Antiretroviral Therapy – the REMSTART trial.”

“My specific research was a qualitative study examining the nutritional status of HIV-positive patients enrolled in the REMSTART study,” said Jones. “I want to know what they are eating, if it’s sufficient, and how nutrition affects their HIV/AIDS.”

Preparation for the Future

Through his work at NIMR, Jones had the opportunity to see many aspects of the Tanzanian health care system.

“Before I solidified my research, I did a ‘REMSTART rotation,’ where I did field work, lab work, and data analysis,” he said. “I did not have very many days where I did the same thing, which was pretty exciting. Some days I traveled two hours to interview a patient, while others I was at NIMR headquarters in an evaluation meeting. I liked not having a set schedule every day.”

Jones said the experience in Tanzania taught him a valuable lesson about responsibility.

“This experience also taught me to be very proactive,” Jones said. “No one is going to call me and tell me where to be, what to do. It’s all on me. That does not just apply to the health care industry, but that is life in general. At some point, we stop being students and have to learn to take responsibility for ourselves.”

Service to Others

In addition to his internship, Jones spent time giving back to the Dar es Salaam community as a volunteer at the Kigamboni Community Center (KCC).

“The best non-academic aspect of my time in Tanzania was volunteering at the [center], where I tutored high school kids in biology, accounting, geography, and chemistry,” he said. “I started tutoring because I really enjoy volunteering, and it is a great way to do something useful with my spare time. This internship was very stressful at times and going to KCC really helped me remember why I chose this.”

Expanding to New Countries

The practical experience program provides students with the opportunity to apply the research methods and global health concepts taught in the classroom to real-life international settings during a semester-long internship.

This year, the department added two additional countries to the program – Rwanda and Ethiopia. Additional countries in the program include Australia, Brazil, Ghana, India, the Philippines, and Tanzania.

By Alicia Lee