Skip to main content

Student Internships Offer Valuable Health Education and Promotion Contributions to Community and Students

The room buzzed with excitement as senior Health Education and Promotion (HEP) students gathered for their internship luncheon on May 13. The eighth annual HEP internship luncheon was held to thank both the interns and their supervisors for the difference they make in the community. Health education and promotion is concerned with enabling the development of life-skills, self-concept, and social skills and environmental intervention through a broad range of political, legislative, fiscal and administrative means.

Program Coordinator and Professor Caile Spear beams with pride as she listens to the interns share their experience with the crowd and to the supervisors praise the interns growth, development and contributions to a variety of organizations in the Treasure Valley. The supervisors present at the luncheon commended the interns on their contributions to their organizations and to communities. In turn, the interns praised their supervisors and the valuable experiences they had during their internship.

Eighteen interns devoted 1,035 hours of service over the course of the spring semester at a variety of sites, including Supportive Housing and Innovative Partnerships, City of Boise-Employee Wellness, St. Luke’s YEAH Program, Central District Health Department – Health Promotion, St. Luke’s Children Advocacy and Community Education, Idaho Coalition for Justice, American Heart Association, Snow School, Girls on the Run, St. Luke’s Men’s Health, and the Idaho Foodbank.

Spear states of her students, “internships make the students better, the city better, the community better, and the state of Idaho better.”

Some interns worked with children or teenagers; others with adults. Sarah Stoppenhagen worked with 4-8th graders in the “Healthy Hearts, Healthy You” program during her internship with St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute. Sendy Martinez taught lessons about nutrition, food, shopping skills and cooking skills to more than 300 junior high and high school students during the course of her internship with the University of Idaho 4-H Extension.

Meanwhile, Matt Walker developed a Facebook account for the Idaho chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics as a part of an outreach campaign that he developed with his internship supervisor, Sherry Iverson. The Facebook project arose from a needs assessment project his group worked on in the KINES 340 Community Health class last fall. At the end of his internship, Walker had to train seven pediatricians around the state to take over his internship duties for the chapter so that the chapter can continue health education and promotion outreach to parents around the state.

The internships give students a place to hone their professional skills, gain confidence, and build their resume. For example, Katie Valinske has been writing a grant proposal for the American Lung Association’s Teens Against Tobacco Use program. She is spending part of her summer organizing the Teens Against Tobacco project so she can hit the ground running in the fall. She saw a problem and is working on fixing it for additional credits.

For some of the students, the internships led to job offers by the agencies where they interned during the spring 2014 semester. Alex Seitz now has a paid position with YMCA Treasure Valley after her internship with the Health and Well Being Coordinator.

Health education specialists help individuals and communities live, work and play in healthier ways. Health education specialists work for voluntary health agencies, local and state health departments, public/community agencies, health care agencies, worksites, university health centers, and public schools (if a licensed teacher). The internship program helps students build their professional skills and a professional network of people that will offer the students outstanding professional recommendations as the students seek employment after graduation. The program helps set the students up for success for their future career in health education and promotion.