APE Spotlight: Netra Anand

As part of the MPH/MSPH curriculum, all students at Rollins are required to complete an Applied Practice Experience (APE), which is an opportunity for students to use practical skills and knowledge gained from coursework in a professional public health setting. Through this series, we hope to highlight different APE opportunities that ambassadors have done during their program.

Name: Netra Anand

Department: Hubert Department of Global Health

Program: MPH in Global Health with a Concentration in Sexual Reproductive Health and Population Studies

What organization is your APE with?
For my APE, I conducted a research project through the Emory Global Health Institute Field Scholars Award program

What did you do for this APE?
I designed and led a qualitative research study on abortion access and community perceptions towards abortion in Oaxaca, Mexico. Along with a multidisciplinary and multinational team, I conducted in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in Oaxaca (government leaders, doctors and hospital workers, etc.) and with local women to better understand access to legal abortion services in the state. We also led health seminars on sexual health and substance abuse disorders in high schools in rural communities.

How does this APE align with your career goals, research interests, etc.?
Within the Sexual/Reproductive Health Concentration, my interests lie in reproductive justice and access to safe abortion. I am particularly interested in working with immigrant and non-English speaking populations to understand the sociocultural and structural barriers and facilitators to access. This project offered an opportunity to understand the experiences of women from diverse backgrounds (urban/rural, younger/older, varying socioeconomic statuses, etc.), and to use qualitative data to develop a landscape analysis of abortion access in Oaxaca.

Also, I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and am passionate about working with Spanish-speaking communities—this practicum presented a chance to not just work with a Hispanic community, but to do so in Mexico and with a team of Mexican co-investigators.

How did you get this opportunity?
Every year, the Emory Global Health Institute accepts applications for the Global Field Scholars Award program. Students across Emory University and from other countries form teams and submit a grant proposal to fund their research. After speaking to one of my professors, Dr. Roger Rochat, about my interests in working in a Spanish-speaking country, he put me in touch with a former Rollins student, who then connected me with students in Mexico who would be interested in working on a research project with me. Together, we developed our research question and study design and wrote a grant proposal to secure funding for our field-work.

What deliverables have you been able to do with your APE?

My deliverables included:
– A grant proposal to secure $10,000 in funding for the project
– In-depth interview guides that we used to interview our study participants
– Poster and oral presentations on our findings at various Emory symposia, such as GEMMA Night (annual abortion research symposium) and the Emory Global Health Organization’s Passport to Public Health event

What have you gotten out of this APE?
I often call this project my “baby” because, through the process of developing the project and collecting data, I felt like I have grown immensely as a public health practitioner. Not only did I get the opportunity to further develop qualitative research skills, but even technical skills such as grant-writing, project management and stakeholder/community engagement. Moreover, I was able to improve my Spanish proficiency and gain exposure to working in a truly global working environment. Since returning from Mexico, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to present this project and plan to utilize this data for my thesis and to develop a manuscript for publication.

Having done this APE, has anything changed for you in terms of research interests, career goals, etc.?
This experience reinforced my passion of working with Spanish-speaking communities. More specifically, working with women to reduce barriers to accessing reproductive health care and improving health literacy. In my future professional career,  I hope to have the opportunity to work in Latin America again.

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