NYSDOH AIDS Institute Panel

On Wednesday April 12, Dr. Bruce Agins (HC’75) and 4 of his current interns (all recent Haverford alums) came to Haverford to present on some of their work at the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute based in New York City. I was a Bi-Co extern at the AIDS Institute two years ago, so of course I attended the panel. I am also interested in public health and policy and would love to work at the AIDS Institute if granted the opportunity.

Dr. Agins introduced the AIDS Institute and gave some background info on its origins dating back to the epidemic in the 70s and 80s. The AIDS Institute produces clinical guidelines for HIV/AIDS care, researches quality of care, and develops education programs. He also talked a little about his career path as an anthropology major at Haverford and his journey through medical school at Case Western to his position as Medical Director of the AIDS Institute. He then handed it over to 4 Haverford alum interns who focus on specific projects within the AIDS Institute.

Dan Ikeda, HC’13 Comparative Literature and Sociology, BMC Postbacc ’16, focuses on quality improvement measures. Leah Hollander, HC’15 Anthropology and Biology, focuses on managing learning networks of community health centers, adolescent quality learning, and health and hospitals for organizational assessments, health literacy, and linkage and engagement. Kelly Hancock, HC’16 Biology, focuses on combating stigma and developing tobacco cessation programs. Maggie Brown, HC’15 International Studies and French, focuses on consumer involvement and pharmacy planning and partnership committees. I appreciated that all of them are exposed to multiple facets of public health, from literature review, to data analysis, to interpersonal interactions.

After the panel, Dr. Agins and the interns stayed around to chat with students and answer questions. The 5 Bryn Mawr students that attended the event stayed a little longer than the rest because we were waiting for the Blue Bus (which meant we got to take home the leftover pizza pictured in the image above!). I got to talk to the interns and ask them about postgrad life in general and how they like working at the AIDS Institute. I think I would like working in that environment as well, and the work is similar to some of what I do at the Center for Asian Health.

My externship at the AIDS Institute two years ago was a transformative experience. There I saw how many different skills were needed to deliver comprehensive healthcare to an at-risk population in one of the most crowded, diverse cities in the world. Learning about Jennifer Knight’s, FNP, MPH (BMC’84) work at Harlem Hospital running the AIDS clinic inspired me to want to become a nurse. Listening to statistician Daniel Feller’s (HC’13) course advice led me to take the same computational biostatistics course he recommended. Site visits to various community health providers like Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center and Harlem United prompted me to get involved in my own backyard of Philadelphia. And every year, I return to Haverford’s Public Policy Forum to hear Dr. Agins speak about current public health issues ranging from government involvement in community development to medical ethics and stigma.

I actually did apply to the program assistant postgrad intern position at the AIDS Institute. I have not heard back yet, but it looks like my chances are slim since most of the interns are staying (at least all four of them that came to present are) and I sense a preference for Haverford alums or Bryn Mawr Postbaccs. There is one Bryn Mawr alum who currently works there, but she was traveling in Africa on behalf of implementing the AIDS Institute’s HealthQual International HIV/AIDS policy program abroad.

On another note, graduation is fast approaching.

Enjoy this smiling picture of me from senior portraits taken that same day before the panel. There is hope in my eyes as I take a selfie wearing some makeup and professional clothing as I hide from the massive amount of work I still have to do before graduating.