Summer at 504HealthNet

Hi guys! My name is Isabella Smith. I am majoring in public health and economics, and plan to get my Masters in Public Health at Tulane after I complete my undergraduate studies. This year I held executive board positions in Students United for Reproductive Justice and Public Health Society. I am going to be a junior next year, and will be spending my fall semester studying abroad at University College London.

I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but I am excited to stay in New Orleans this summer to intern at 504HealthNet. This organization is made up of various healthcare providers in New Orleans whose services are community-oriented, and aimed at helping people regardless of their ability to pay, concentrating on low-income and uninsured populations. I do not have a very specific intern role, and I am willing to be flexible and help out in whatever area I am needed.

While I intern at 504HealthNet, I hope to achieve the following five learning objectives:

  1. Gain a greater understanding of how public health, economics, and public policy intersect.
  2. Develop strong qualitative and quantitative research and analysis skills.
  3. Learn how to set and meet my own objectives related to the projects I work on.
  4. Strengthen my communication skills in a professional setting.
  5. Explore potential career opportunities relevant to my majors (Public Health and Economics).

This semester, one of my public health professors commented that you often do not “see” a lot of men in public health, and that the reason for this is because they are at the “top”; that is, working in the highest-paid and most powerful public health professions often removed from the community setting. I was irritated by this statement. I would like to go into public health policy myself one day, and would like to see this field experience more gender equality. I hope that through this internship I am able to gain professional skills and make connections that will help me start my career after I graduate, and would like to empower other women and girls to aim for positions of leadership in the public health field.

My internship supervisor was kind enough to provide me with preparation materials, including information about the 504HealthNet organization and various articles about healthcare and Medicaid in Louisiana and New Orleans to get me ready for my internship. She also recommended that I watch the documentary “Big Charity”, which explores the history of New Orleans’ Charity Hospital from its beginning until its closure during Hurricane Katrina.

I am not yet sure what my day-to-day responsibilities will look like at 504HealthNet, but this is why I am excited to start. I am eager to learn more about health policy and help out with various projects. I do not have a definite career path chosen in my mind, so I am curious about the different public health jobs that I will be exposed to and interesting people that I am sure to meet. I am certain that I will gain valuable knowledge at my internship, and in turn I hope that I become a valuable addition to the 504HealthNet team this summer.



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