A meaningful learning experience

By Neha Mehta

Pham Nguyen's Dream I am a dual degree MBA and Masters in Public Health student at the University of California at Berkeley. I had a unique growth opportunity to spend 6 weeks interning at L V Prasad Eye Institute's International Centre for Advancement of Rural Eye care (ICARE) this summer. S Sheeladevi, Associate Public Health Specialist, served as my internship preceptor and provided me with valuable mentorship, guidance and direction during my time in India.

My internship focused on one of L V Prasad's major community outreach initiatives to address childhood blindness - the Nimmagadda Prasad - LVPEI Children's Eye Health Initiative that aims at preventing childhood blindness so that "No child in Andhra Pradesh is needlessly blind or visually impaired by the year 2020". This initiative was launched on July 7, 2007 with 10 years of assured funding from the Nimmagadda Foundation, and provides free primary and secondary eye healthcare, diagnosis and treatment services, including glasses, to children aged 0-15 years. My project's end deliverables will help in a broader impact evaluation of this program

My internship was structured to offer a well-rounded experience with opportunities for growth and learning. Rotating between various patient care and administrative departments at the city hospital, and learning about the community health projects, helped me develop a broad understanding of the Institute's structure, strategy and operations. My project work involved rich, eye-opening visits to rural villages and towns in Andhra Pradesh where I conducted 45 community field interviews to determine stakeholder perceptions, challenges and ways to strengthen this initiative. I also quantitatively assessed the current gap in outreach services to the child population in these geographical areas. Throughout my internship, I was afforded many opportunities for interviews with the Institute's employees across all levels, including key leadership, external advisors and contacts at partner organizations, allowing me to gain a good understanding of LVP's organizational structure, culture and context within the larger healthcare network.

Given my interest in pediatric public health management, I thoroughly enjoyed my first-hand experience in an Indian rural health setting, as well as the opportunity to develop community health program evaluation and analysis skills. I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped make this a valuable and meaningful learning experience. I look forward to returning to India to work in pediatric community healthcare after completing my MBA and MPH.

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Neha Mehta
Haas School of Business and School of Public Health
University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA