Newfound independence, analysis expertise, and a contemporary perspective. These classes weren’t essentially on UC Berkeley pupil Samhita Bhat’s to-do checklist earlier than she left for a summer season 2022 internship in India. And but, when her time was up at Public Well being Analysis Institute of India (PHRII), Baht—a fourth-year undergrad majoring in molecular & cell biology and public well being— took residence a sequence of revelations, together with a renewed dedication to a profession in public well being.
PHRII was based by Berkeley Public Well being alum Purnima Madhivanan ‘07—now affiliate professor on the College of Arizona—in 2005 to ship reasonably priced healthcare to girls and youngsters in India’s rural communities. The institute educates girls and offers them with reproductive providers at its Prerana Reproductive Well being Clinic and Cellular Medical Clinic, situated in Mysore, India. Impressed by and acquainted with Madhivanan’s work, Bhat related along with her over the cellphone and was shortly supplied the internship.
Whereas working at PHRII, Bhat measured the affect of a cervical most cancers screening program on group members.
For Bhat, the expertise was a welcome change from earlier internships, at which she spent most of her time behind a lab bench somewhat than out within the discipline. In India, her analysis consisted of interviewing group well being staff, also referred to as ashas, in regards to the effectiveness of the cellular clinic’s cervical most cancers screening program. She developed a questionnaire that evaluated supplier, participant, and group attributes utilizing smiley faces to characterize satisfaction. In complete, Bhat interviewed staff in 17 rural communities and three city facilities.
Analyzing survey outcomes, Bhat and her analysis group, made up of different UC Berkeley undergrads, discovered that social stigma and disinformation about sexual well being have been vital obstacles in opposition to group consciousness of HPV, a viral an infection transmitted by intercourse or skin-to-skin contact that may trigger cervical most cancers.
The researcher group would go on to current their findings on the American Faculty of Epidemiology convention and publish their summary within the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Epidemiology.
When she visited India up to now, Bhat had all the time been accompanied by her household and welcomed by kinfolk with a heat cup of espresso of their residence city of JP Nagar. However touring alone for the primary time meant curating her personal itinerary.
“In some methods, it was a problem,” she stated. In between navigating new conditions like shopping for groceries, assembly new roommates, and determining public transportation, a variety of progress occurred. “It helped me acquire a variety of independence.”
Bhat chronicled her time overseas by weekly weblog posts, offering each reflection and perception on all the things from adventures with roommates to conducting analysis interviews.
Baht all the time knew she wished to do a summer season internship in India and to carve a path in public well being doing nonprofit work. Now, after interviewing tens of ladies to evaluate Mysore’s group wants for cervical most cancers and HPV screening, Bhat’s postgraduate trajectory is clearer than ever. “Listening to these tales helped me perceive why this profession path was the one I wish to take.”