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Highly competitive healthcare internship sends Willamette student to Kenya

by Jennifer Johnson,

Applicant pool for East Africa internship was the largest in the organization's history.

This summer, Sydney Wilson ’22 will have an exceptional opportunity to observe healthcare delivery in the developing world. The exercise and health science major will live in Mombasa, Kenya, and shadow medical professionals in the pediatric, OB/GYN and surgical units at the country’s second-largest hospital. 

Sydney Wilson

As students are not certified to perform much work, Wilson said most of her internship will involve observation, receiving mentorship from various healthcare professionals and assisting in community clinics, such as a hygiene clinic at an elementary school. 

Offered through International Medical Aid, a nonprofit founded by Johns Hopkins University alumni, the internship presented an otherwise hard-to-get opportunity for pre-physician assistant students — a chance to work directly in a hospital. Such internships can be extremely difficult to secure for various logistical and professional practice reasons. 

International Medical Aid stated this year’s applicant pool for the East Africa internship was "the strongest and largest in our organization's history," which Wilson imagines is due to applicants who reapplied after the pandemic canceled last year’s program. 

The internship satisfies her search for a more diverse healthcare setting, builds on her previous internship at an oncology clinic last year and will strengthen her application for graduate school down the road. Scheduling the trip has been a bit nerve wracking, especially amid an “infinitive amount of unknowns,” but she’ll be traveling with another intern and won’t be alone, she said. 

Overall, she’s very excited. “It’s a unique opportunity to build relationships with other students and graduates going through the same process as I am for physician assistant’s school,” she said. “And it also gives me a chance to meet people who share a common interest in healthcare and helping people in need.”

 

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Our historic campus next to the State Capitol in Salem houses a renowned residential arts and sciences college, and our downtown Portland campus houses the flagship Pacific Northwest College of Art. Professional graduate programs in Portland and Salem include the Northwest's oldest law school, Oregon's top-ranked MBA program, MA and MFA programs in the arts, writing and critical studies, and our MS in data science program.

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