Afsah Amin is pursuing a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology and plans to graduate in December of 2021. She immigrated from Pakistan after receiving her medical training as an anesthesiologist and decided to transition from a clinical role to a research scientist role to impact more people. As she was making this decision, her mentors encouraged her to pursue a masters of public health to brush up on skills related to clinical research.
Amin was impressed with the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health after speaking with Sue Hancock, a member of the student services team who helped make the process easy. As she progressed through the program, she looked at the traditional internship options available, but none of the ones she identified spoke to her.
“I was interested in understanding real-world evidence generation, which is something that I knew an internship at Eli Lilly could provide,” she said. Amin then spoke with an alumni board member, Megan Klopchin, who works at Eli Lilly and Company as a Consultant in Policy Research in the Global Patient Outcomes & Real World Evidence (RWE) Department. Klopchin connected Amin to a few scientists on the Lilly team who agreed to serve as preceptors. “Lilly has an ongoing relationship with Fairbanks and hosting an intern from the school was an exciting opportunity to continue to strength it.”
The collaboration between Amin, Klopchin, and the Lilly Scientists led to the creation of an academic science internship experience for Amin, unlike any other. The internship was developed around her specific skillset and the goals that she was hoping to achieve.
“The experience of working in a multi-functional team and leading those projects with experienced and expert members was very exciting,” Amin said. “It was a collaborative environment and a unique experience to gain everyone’s perspective when creating a research study. The assessment of databases in the RWE department helped me understand the availability and uniqueness of the type of data generated from insurance claim databases.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Amin had set a goal to connect with professionals at Lilly and interact with them in a meaningful way. When the epidemic occurred, Amin was told she would have to complete the internship remotely. She worried that remote learning, coupled with her lack of experience in real world evidence would impact her ability to make meaningful connections with her colleagues. However, after Lilly’s workforce all shifted remotely, she found that the pandemic would not affect her ability to gain immense value from the internship and that individuals had more time to spend with her.
“My learning was not impacted as much as I worried. I still had meetings with my preceptors, and I gained experience collaborating with Microsoft teams. This allowed me to collaborate on projects at the same time as team members. Everyone was very accessible, more so than I believe they would have been if travel restrictions were not in place.”
Klopchin believes that Amin excelled because of her passion to help patients and robust technical skills in public health and encourages other organizations to host interns despite concerns around remote internships. Likewise, Amin encourages students to be very agile and open to evolving their internship experiences during this challenging time.
Employers and students interested in learning more about internship experiences through the Fairbanks School of Public Health should contact Amelia Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-278-8415.