Connecticut River Valley Farmworker Health Program, Boston, MA
This summer I secured a public health internship at the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers through the Health Career Connection program. Within the League, I worked for the Connecticut River Valley Farmworker Health Program (CRVFHP) to support more than 26 community health centers in providing primary care services to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers.
It took a few weeks for me to really grasp what we do at the League and specifically what support the CRVFHP provides to community health centers and migratory and seasonal agricultural workers. I learned over time by engaging in projects. I created a resource for community health centers on insurance eligibility and enrollment for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers based on immigration status. I developed—in English and Spanish—patient education materials on pesticide sickness, heat emergencies and sun protection. More recently, I have been able to connect with community health workers and outreach staff from our community health centers and to visit one of the farms served by our community health centers.
The CRVFHP provides resources directly to community health workers and outreach workers and community health centers. They also provide funding for certain primary care services to community health centers that serve migratory and seasonal agricultural workers. My three main projects were to: (1) support the Annual Strategic Planning Meeting on June 24 and assist in preparing Emergency Preparedness Kits for farmworkers to be distributed at this meeting; (2) develop a long-term fundraising plan using the Benevon Model for sustainable fundraising; and (3) facilitate the release of the annual newsletter. I was successful in all three of these projects, and the CRVFHP team was grateful for my work on these and other projects.
Over the course of my internship I was able to gain an understanding of careers and pathways in public health. I actively worked on my networking skills, scheduling multiple informational interviews to help me explore the public health field and build relationships with my colleagues at the League. I also became much more confident working in an office setting, communicating professionally both remotely and in-person, and working within a variety of software and technology platforms.
While I truly enjoyed my internship with the CRVFHP, my primary takeaway from this summer is that I will continue to pursue clinical medicine and will not apply to dual degree MD/MPH programs at this time. Working at the CRVFHP I realized how hard it is for me to adjust my pace to meet the demands of working at a desk each and every day. After working as an EMT previously, I know now that I am truly passionate about working in a clinical setting and require patient contact to feel fulfilled.
In the future, my time at the CRVFHP will influence my career path. Migratory and seasonal agricultural workers are a population that can sometimes be invisible, especially in regions like the Northeast—not known for its rural farmland. Now that I am aware of the barriers to care that this population faces, I hope to work with them again in the future as a bilingual healthcare provider dedicated to health equity. Furthermore, I hope to engage with community health centers and do some outreach work as a physician.