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Employer: Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Division of Health Promotion & Chronic Disease (HPCD).
Located in: St. Paul, Minnesota
Degree Required: Bachelors
Minnesota Cancer Reporting System (MCRS) Data Analysis Unit (AU)
Advanced Practical Experience (APEx) Opportunity (2, maybe up to 3 students)
Minnesota Department of Health
Division of Health Promotion & Chronic Disease
Section of Chronic Disease & Environmental Epidemiology
85 East 7th Street, Suite 220
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101
This is an unpaid student intern position at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Division of Health Promotion & Chronic Disease (HPCD).
- Minimum Degree Required: Bachelors
- Major: Epidemiology or other major in public health
Background: Research links obesity to an increased risk of thirteen different cancers, including endometrial, esophageal, stomach, liver, and pancreas, among others. Between 2000 and 2017, the prevalence of obesity in Minnesota has increased from 16.4% in 2000 to 28.4% in 2017. During this time, the incidence of several cancers linked to obesity has also increased. The MCRS Data Analysis Unit wants to assess the burden of obesity-associated cancers in Minnesota and develop communications to educate the public about risks of cancer from obesity.
Objective: Two or possibly three student interns will work as a team, in collaboration with MCRS Data Analysis Unit (AU) staff to perform a brief review of current published literature, assist with data analyses, and develop communications. The students will develop one or more sets of Quick Facts and Facts & Figures documents for posting on the MDH website. If time permits, students will develop tweets* to pilot using Twitter to communicate this information to the public. (The project’s specific deliverables can be finalized in meetings with the students.)
Ideal Candidate: Ideal candidates for this position are graduate students enrolled in master’s programs in schools of public health who need an APEx or similar practical field experience to complete in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master’s degree in their major. Classwork in cancer epidemiology is desired. Excellent oral and written skills and willingness to work in a team are needed to successfully carry out this project.
Tasks will include some of the following activities (dependent on intern’s available time):
- Participate in team meetings to develop analysis plan, establish goals, and timeline
- Search the Internet and published literature to gather and summarize current information on cancers associated with the obesity
- Gather information on the prevalence of obesity in Minnesota stratified by subpopulation from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and similar surveys
- Write-up search results using bullets and short sentences, documenting all references used
- With assistance from preceptor and AU staff, run and summarize analyses of cancer incidence and mortality rates and trends for selected cancers using National Cancer Institute’s SEER*Stat software developed for NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program and used by U.S. central cancer registries.
- Develop Quick Facts and Facts & Figures documents summarizing descriptive and risk factor epidemiology for the selected cancers, using standard formats in consultation with MDH staff. These documents use plain language to summarize the findings of the literature review (e.g., current understanding of risk and protective factors for specific cancers, estimates of population prevalence for these risk and protective factors) and analysis results (e.g., incidence and mortality rates and trends).
- Provide regular progress reports at in-person meetings to preceptor, and program staff as appropriate.
- Develop a brief presentation of work performed and present to MCRS epidemiologists on the last day of the APEx.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Needed:
- Self-motivated and capable of working independently
- Experience with personal computers and word processing
- Ability to search and review published literature, and conduct searches on the Internet
- Detail oriented, with willingness to carefully track and correct errors, and perform edits and revisions
- Willingness to learn to clearly communicate with the public (vs. academic audiences)
- Interpersonal skills related to teamwork and collaboration
- Start Date: to be determined
- End Date: to be determined
Other: Wok at MDH’s Golden Rule Building in downtown St. Paul is preferred, but off-site work is possible when necessary.
Benefits: Developing and using practical skills are possible in these areas:
- Sharpen literature review and presentation skills
- Communicate effectively both orally and in writing
- Learn to use Twitter and possibly other social media to communicate with the public
- Work in a team with dedicated, experienced, public health professionals
- Collaborate and network with professionals in MDH cancer prevention and control programs
- Learn about public health surveillance and cancer
Epidemiology competencies potentially fulfilled (UM/SPH epidemiology majors only):
- Demonstrate a basic understanding of the distribution, by person, place and time, and the risk factors for the major public health problems now facing humans.
- Conduct a literature search and critically evaluate the published epidemiologic research with regard to internal and external validity as well as public health importance.
- Use statistical software to analyze epidemiologic data using appropriate statistical techniques.
- Design a valid epidemiologic study that reflects an understanding of: (a) the best temporal design for the data, (b) the pathophysiology of the disease, and (c) principles of good ethical and legal practice as they relate to study design and data collection, dissemination, and use.
- Collect and/or manage data from screening, surveillance and public databases and from epidemiologic investigations including outbreak investigations.
- Summarize and present the results of an epidemiologic study in both tabular and figure formats; identify potential sources of confounding and bias; and/or describe effect modification if applicable and draw appropriate conclusions.
- Communicate the study findings in oral and written reports appropriate for both lay and professional audiences.
MDH Contact & Preceptor: If interested in this position, please send your cover letter and resume/CV to the project preceptor (below).
Judy Punyko, M.S., Ph.D.
Deputy Director of Epidemiology & Statistics
Minnesota Cancer Reporting System
Minnesota Department of Health
*Subject to change if another social networking vehicle (e.g., FaceBook) is deemed a better vehicle for communicating cancer facts and figures.
Posted on 03/22/2019
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