Lori Boies, a student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in the online Epidemiology Master of Public Health program, conducted her practicum in fall 2020 remotely with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Texas Syndromic Surveillance System under Mr. Linc Allen. After hearing about this opportunity on social media from another School of Public Health student, she decided to seek it out and applied through the DSHS internship website.
For Lori, the most meaningful part of the practicum was reviewing the data from the DSHS Syndromic Surveillance System’s database and trying to find correlations for different cardiopulmonary conditions. By using the skills developed in the classroom, she investigated trends in cardiopulmonary conditions that changed after the COVID-19 diagnosis. Additionally, Lori was thrilled to have the opportunity to have access to emerging evidence and real time data that could affect this population.
Using data submitted to the Texas Syndromic Surveillance database reported voluntarily by heath systems, trends in thrombotic events and heart attacks were analyzed. Through this work, Lori was able to develop two final products including a presentation and dashboard. The presentation was presented to a variety of stakeholders within DSHS and other stakeholders across the state of Texas as part of the Blue Ribbon internship end-of-semester symposium. The dashboard tracks trends of COVID-19 diagnosis with other comorbidities that can be utilized in Texas emergency rooms and urgent care settings. The goal of the dashboard is to create a long-standing tool for public health practitioners to help analyze the effects of COVID-19 across the state of Texas.
She encourages future students to remember the practicum is a learning experience and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on our projects or propose idea that may seem outside the norm. You can offer valuable insight! Having these communications during the practicum is one of many ways to immerse yourself and take ownership of the project’s direction and goals.