During the summers of 2014 and 2015 I was fortunate enough to intern at GPTCHB/NPTEC under Dr. Jennifer Giroux, PJ Beaudry and Staci Hunter. Throughout my time in the office and on the road, I participated in the planning and execution of a Tribal Public Health Forum, Yearly Health Summit and Maternal and Child Health Conference. I also contributed to the creation of an HIV/AIDS resource guide for North Dakota and South Dakota and did literature reviews for emerging Maternal and Child Health issues. This opportunity opened my eyes to the power that public health has in shaping a community and better prepared me for a career in medicine. As a first year medical student at ATSU’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine I am truly thankful for my experience at GPTCHB and the wonderful mentors who helped me along the way.
I interned with the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB) in the Fall of 2012. I started my internship with the Finance Department and found it to be valuable and challenging to learn real life accounting processes. In the later part of my internship I also assisted the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) Program. Under the NARCH program I was able to assist with a variety of administrative functions and expanded my knowledge regarding public health research.
My experience at the health board was extremely rewarding. I was lucky to have supervisors and mentors who have many years of experience in administration and finance to oversee my work and help me grow and improve. My supervisors were very understanding and always encouraged me to ask questions. When I was interning at the health board I was able to identify the things I do well and some of the things I need to improve on to not only be a better employee, but a better person.
I am now employed at GPTCHB as the administrative coordinator for the Health Promotions Programs. As with my internship, I have found that I am always learning something new in my position. Having been in food and retail jobs previously, I have gained a new outlook and appreciation for public health workers and am fortunate to have the opportunity to have a career that allows me to continuously grow and improve.
As a Bachelor of Social Work student at Oglala Lakota College’s Rapid City campus, I completed my practicum experience at Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board as a program assistant with the agency’s former Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (now the Behavioral Health & Recovery Department) during the 2010-2011 academic year, just prior to graduating.
The overall experience was well-suited to the far-reaching field of social work and was nothing short of enriching and rewarding, especially as a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, as I acquired valuable, essential knowledge of and insight into the 18 regional tribal communities served by the health board – knowledge and insight unavailable elsewhere within the Rapid City area. The health board’s unique status as a tribally overseen and oriented organization geographically situated within an urban setting allows for a correspondingly unique experience for both students and employees alike.
My time at GPTCHB as an undergraduate student not only provided me with crucial exposure to the arena of the impact of specific behavioral health issues, including methamphetamine abuse and suicidality, that disproportionally affect tribal nations but with crucial exposure to the broad realm and scope of tribal public health issues as well. Further, the experience gave me a solid foundation as a graduate student and as I now continue my work with tribes in the region as a Master of Social Work macro-focused practitioner with an emphasis in Community Organization, Planning and Administration (COPA) dedicated to the attainment of true economic and social justice for all.