Students and global health experts share their experiences working with communities.

Category: Andrea

The End of a Practicum?

My dog, Shumaq, enjoying the summer days.

My dog, Shumaq, enjoying the summer days.

I am writing this while I sit on my bed with my dogs at my side, reflecting on my life over the past few months. I have spent a good deal of my time working on different projects, primarily through the SER (Salud, Estrés, y Resiliencia/Health, Stress, and Resilience) Hispano Project, which looks at the effects of acculturation stress on Latinx immigrant communities. I have spent my time translating survey items and IRB consent forms (so much translating!), writing, reading research articles, and occasionally meeting with other members of the research team. Some weeks I have had very little tasks and been able to perfect my Kombucha brewing skills while other weeks I feel the impacts of numerous Zoom calls and looming deadlines. Through it all, I have realized the importance of staying resilient and adapting to change. My original practicum plan was to finish my practicum and turn in my deliverables by the end of July, but some delays in research and data collection due to COVID-19 and other unrelated events have forced a change in my plans and I will continue to work through the fall semester.

Spending time in nature is great way to release stress.

Spending time in nature is great way to release stress.

Despite these setbacks, I find that I am more open-minded and flexible. Before, I may have felt discouraged, but now I recognize the fact that there are many things outside of my control and being able to continue working with the amazing people who are part of the SER Hispano team is a true blessing. Throughout my time in school, from elementary all the way to graduate school, there are few places that I could truly call home and feel welcome. Being a part of a team of majority Latinx folks has refreshed me and made me realize the importance of being part of an environment of people who are supportive and uniquely understanding of my life experiences. During my free time I enjoy taking walks with my family, meditating, and trying out new experiments in the kitchen. I hope to be able to continue some of these hobbies and stay grounded even as the stresses of the new semester take hold.

Andrea

 

Adapting to a Summer Practicum in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

By Andrea Mendoza

Like many people, the last few months have been a whirlwind of anxiety, uncertainty, and complex emotions for me. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored existing health disparities and inequities, highlighting the need for public health interventions more than ever. Within the first month of the pandemic, black Americans made up 33% of those hospitalized while making up only 13% of the US population. As the number of lives lost to COVID-19 exceeds 100,000 within the nation, underrepresented communities continue to be disproportionately burdened and impacted by structural violence. There is a critical need to find culturally appropriate interventions that focus on reducing the impact of systemic racism on the health of marginalized communities.

For my practicum, I am currently working with a team of researchers at Duke in the SER (Salud, Estrés, y Resiliencia/Health, Stress, and Resilience) Hispano Project that studies the effects of acculturation stress and resilience on the health and wellbeing of Latinx immigrants in the Research Triangle Area. Research has shown that Latinx immigrants to the United States are generally healthier than the general US population upon arrival, but their health declines over time. However, there is a lack of research on how stress influences this phenomenon. The SER project focuses on generating new knowledge on how individual, family, and community resilience among the Latinx population buffers against acculturation stress and influences both psychological and physical health, thus informing future interventions to improve the health of the Latinx community. I will be assisting with conducting and coding qualitative interviews with members of the Latinx community and producing an analysis report and literature review. As a second generation Mexican-American, I strongly believe in the significance of the work I am doing this summer and the importance of practicing global health work in local contexts.

Attempting to do work with dogs in the picture is harder than it seems.

Attempting to do work with dogs in the picture is harder than it seems.

Adapting to a remote practicum has been a challenge, but I have been able to develop techniques to get me through the day. I rely on virtual check-ins with my practicum preceptor and remote team meetings to keep me motivated and in tune with my work. I have learned to be more flexible as well as kind to myself by acknowledging my own humanity and imperfections and taking everything a day at a time. Sometimes that means I do not have a perfect workplace set up, but being able to focus on the small moments of gratitude has helped me stay grounded. I find it is more important than ever to spend time out in nature, whether it is going on daily walks with my sister and two dogs, or just hanging out in my backyard hammock.

View of my hammock

View of my hammock