Fiona Keller ’21

The Community Health Acceleration Partnership, New York, NY

The Community Health Acceleration Partnership (CHAP) is a global and domestic health organization working to prioritize community health across the world. I worked with the domestic side of their organization which aimed to facilitate the formal integration of community health workers (CHWs) into the broader U.S. healthcare system. CHWs, who often share life experiences with the communities that they serve, act as necessary links between 
community members and the local health departments or social support system which has been historically 
mistrusted or inaccessible and thus underutilized. I was really proud to be working for an organization that was combating institutional racism and discrimination in medicine.

My work over the summer was separated into two main projects with various subparts. For my first project, I worked with two other interns monitoring the use of CHWs in state, county and city contact tracing systems. We had various calls with state, county and city health departments across the U.S. and identified a few “bright spot” 
contact tracing systems that had fully integrated CHWs in both operations and decision-making. We then developed 
documents that highlighted these bright spots and a playbook that gave directions for how local health departments 
should be engaging CHWs into their contact tracing systems. Through this project, I learned how to interview, develop public health frameworks and create easily digestible briefs.

For my second project, I worked independently investigating the maternal health landscape of doulas and midwives across the U.S. I examined the current state of Medicaid coverage laws for doulas and midwives and compiled a list of lobbyists and community-based organizations (CBOs) that were fighting for universal Medicaid coverage to increase patient access to maternal CHWs. Working alone on this project was originally intimidating, but I quickly began to enjoy it, and in the end, I was able to create easily readable slide decks.

This is my second summer working in the field of public health. My first exposure to community health was last summer working with the Erie Family Health Centers in Chicago which completely changed my medical career plans, switching my interest from a specialty such as cardiology or neurology to a more general practice as a family medicine physician or an internist in a community health center. This internship has renewed my interest in community health, and also generated a new desire to do public health advocacy work. I am still planning on applying to medical school with the goal of receiving an MD/MPH; and although I would like to practice medicine in a community health center for a while, I now am strongly considering a way to integrate domestic public health advocacy into my future career.

Finally, I would like to thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Class of 1951 for this summer internship 
at CHAP. I gained valuable research, writing and interviewing skills. It was truly a transformative summer and has inspired 
me to focus on domestic health for my future career plans in public health.