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Turner wins internship in community health

The Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) system has selected Chelsey Turner to receive a competitive summer internship in community health at the Polk County Health Department.

Turner has studied biology at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Originally from Spring Valley, Turner graduated from Spring Valley High School in 2010.

The Community Health Internship Program (CHIP) is a program of the Wisconsin AHEC System, administered through the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. The CHIP program links college undergraduate and graduate student interns with local health departments, community health centers and other community health agencies throughout the state to work on public health projects to benefit the local community or region.

“The program would not be possible without the support and commitment of local health departments and community agencies,” says Nancy Sugden, director of the Wisconsin AHEC System. “On-site mentors provide technical support and assistance and facilitate shadowing opportunities to help interns gain an understanding and appreciation of the broad range of public health activities undertaken at the local level.”

Students selected for the program are usually college juniors or seniors, first year health professions graduate students or other graduate students with a strong interest in public health. The program is offered at county health department sites and other locations statewide. Students receive a modest stipend to cover their living expenses during the eight-week program.

The statewide CHIP program currently places up to 45 interns each summer in locations across the state, and the Milwaukee CHIP program places another 30 students in the Milwaukee and southeast Wisconsin region. To be eligible for consideration, applicants must demonstrate a strong academic and interest in a career path related to public health.

Turner explained her internship work this summer is regarding Early Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) which in Wisconsin is known as Health Check.

“I am working alongside ABC for Rural Health, a non-profit public interest law firm that specializes in helping families with access to health care and health care financing,” she said. Turner explained the referral rate for corrective treatment in Wisconsin is 4.9 percent, while the nationwide rate is 30.5.

“My project is to figure out why the referral rate in Wisconsin is much lower than the nationwide rate. In particular, I will be working with health care facilities and interviewing health care professionals to get an idea on why the rate is low, and what we can do to fix this,’ she said.   

Turner also mentioned she is working to improve immunizations in Polk County for two-year-olds. In 2012, 61 percent of two-year-olds hit the benchmarks, short of the 78 percent goal the County was shooting far. 

"I have had the opportunity to experience many areas in the public health department," she concluded. "I am grateful for this experience. I am glas that I am able to make a slight contribution to the Polk County Health Department to making not only the county, but Wisconsin a healthier place."