Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute
Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute
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The Impact of Worker-Based Internships on the Field of Occupational Health

The Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute is proposing to document the experiences of occupational, environmental and public health students who participated in an internship program run by the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW). The experiences of these interns will be of immense educational significance to current and future generations of students of occupational, environmental and public health and will serve as the catalyst for revitalization of programs that provide students with valuable field experience.

In 1970, OCAW began a unique internship program at the point of production for doctors, medical students and professionals from various other disciplines. Interns were assigned to respond to health and safety problems directly at the workplace. The participating interns made valuable contributions to worker health and safety. Furthermore, the program shaped the careers of its participants. A substantial number of professionals who are involved in public health today trace their development to this program. Others who did not work directly in the program, but either were in school with an intern or worked with them, also were affected in a similar way.

Purpose and Need
Medical students today find few opportunities, either in course work or field work, to study occupational medicine. In fact, according to a 1985 survey, only 66 percent of U.S. medical schools offer any courses in occupational medicine. The study proposed by the Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute can help broaden opportunities for students by providing the following:
Documentation, via personal interviews with participants, of the impact of the intern programs on the career choices of a generation of occupational, environmental and public health professionals;
Inspiration and encouragement to medical students to pursue careers in occupational health, via personal stories and experiences of current professionals; and
Catalyst to revive field-based intern programs.

Methodology and Period of Performance
The Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute will:
Identify and locate program participants
Create a questionnaire about content and value of intern experiences for distribution to participants
Identify 6-10 participants from varied disciplines to interview for biographical profiles; conduct interviews with selected participants
Write history and analysis of program accompanied by biographical profiles; prepare for publication
Distribute final product to students; schools of medicine and public health; student organizations and policymakers

The Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute is the 501(c)(3) educational and cultural arm of the Labor Party
1532 16th Street, NW · Washington, DC 20036 · Tel: 202 234-0040 · Fax: 202 234-5266 · Email: