Stewart Dandorf - Ecuador

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Internship location: Manglaralto, Ecuador
Career goal: To combine the complementary disciplines of clinical medicine and public health research in an effort to provide evidence-based health interventions at the individual and population levels

Internship summary:
The goal of my internship was to better understand barriers to HIV testing in rural Ecuador.  Accordingly, a culturally appropriate questionnaire was utilized to gather information related to patient demographics, HIV knowledge and past testing practices.  Furthermore, the questionnaire was administered following an HIV public service announcement to measure the influence of an educational intervention on the decision to voluntarily test for HIV. Ultimately, information gathered from this study will be used to improve HIV testing strategies in a hospital setting. 

Value of experience: 
Completing my internship in rural Ecuador was extremely valuable to preparing for a career in public health because it provided numerous opportunities to apply the concepts I am currently learning at YSPH. Specifically, as I aspire to continue the implementation of preventative measures for HIV transmission, my internship allowed me to develop essential skills that can only be learned through hands-on experience.  Lastly, while working closely with a local non-governmental organization, I was able to develop and implement socio-culturally appropriate strategies that are critical to providing an effective intervention within a foreign environment. 

Best moment:
The best experiences from my internship came when community members would mobilize and urge their friends and family to voluntarily test for HIV or complete our questionnaire based on recognizing the importance of our intervention.