My favorite walking trail (Bolin Creek Trail in Chapel Hill)

My favorite walking trail (Bolin Creek Trail in Chapel Hill)

As I was searching for a practicum, I knew I would be working remotely and that my global experience would remain local this summer. Regardless, I was overjoyed and excited when I was brought on to work with a research team from Argentina. This summer, I am assisting in an ongoing research study that is supported by the Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy (IECS), an organization located in Buenos Aires that develops research, education, and technical support activities in Latin America and around the world. The IECS project I am assisting with this summer is studying the effects of calcium-fortified water and flour on hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), such as preeclampsia. I will be writing concept notes promoting the fortification initiative and contributing to a literature review on the mechanisms by which calcium intake influences the development of preeclampsia. As someone with a background in nutrition science, I am thrilled to be a part of such an amazing project, while also gaining experience in the area of maternal health— another passion of mine.

From the beginning, I was so excited to start my practicum and could not wait for a summer of learning and growth. However, when my practicum began a few weeks ago, life felt very similar to my typical school routine—wake up, log on to Zoom, work, take my daily walk (see photo on the right), make dinner, watch Netflix documentaries with my roommates, and go to bed. Right away, I started to feel disconnected from my work and a bit disappointed in myself for feeling this way. I quickly realized that it was my own responsibility to change my perspective and find a way to become more engaged in my practicum experience. From then on, I have integrated daily gratitude and affirmations into my work routine. Every day, I remind myself that my practicum work is no less meaningful as a result of being remote and that I am contributing to something bigger than myself. These affirmations are so important because sometimes, they get lost in the mundane when working remotely. Since beginning this “perspective-shifting” work, I have seen a difference in my attitude and mental outlook because I am truly excited and grateful to engage in the work I am doing! In only the first few weeks, I have learned the importance of keeping a steady mindset focused on the big picture and remembering that I am responsible for my practicum experience, especially in these unprecedented times.

For anyone beginning their practicum, here are a few of my daily affirmations that you can use as you begin your practicum experience:

  • My work is no less meaningful as a result of being remote
  • I am contributing to something bigger than myself
  • I am grateful for this opportunity because it will help me grow professionally and personally
  • I accept responsibility for my own practicum experience and personal development
  • I am doing my best and am proud of myself!

Good luck!

-Paulina