International Health Internship


Description: Are you looking for an internship where you can truly make a difference as you prepare for a career in global health? Would you like the opportunity to work alongside dedicated professionals who are battling diseases like leptospirosis, chikungunya, cancer, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and more, all while doing so on a tropical island paradise? If so, then this is the internship for you!

The PIHOA Pacific Island Public Health Training Center,  in concert with the Pohnpei State Department of Health Services, is looking for hard-working and dedicated interns who want to take on the challenges of public health in a resource-limited environment where every day presents new challenges and opportunities for growth as you take your first steps toward a career in global health.

We offer a variety of internship opportunities that can be tailored to meet the specific learning needs of health professions students, including public health, psychology, sociology, social work, and closely related fields. This internship presents an exciting opportunity to work in an international health setting with staff from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds in a developing, resource-limited environment where they intern can see their hands-on work making a real difference in the lives of target populations.

All internship positions are based in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, working within the several departments of the Pohnpei State Department of Health Services, but with a special emphasis on community-based, public health programs in various areas, such as behavioral health, health promotion, maternal and child health, immunization, cancer prevention, obesity prevention and control, and so forth; and, may include rotations in public health agencies, community health centers, dispensaries, and the Pohnpei State Hospital.

Because of the large number of ongoing projects in Pohnpei at any one time, and the strong working relationship between the PIPHTC and Pohnpei State Department of Health Services, the opportunities are numerous and flexible, and can be tailored to meet the specific individual learning needs of the student intern within the requirements set for internship by the Council on Education for Public Health Applied Practice Experience. In consultation with the Preceptor, Pohnpei State Department of Health Services, and their academic advisor, the intern will develop an overall goal for their internship, and then develop a set of measureable objectives to be met in meeting this overall goal, that will become the specifics of the internship, and the means by which the intern will be evaluated.

This competitive internship only offers two slots per year – but if you think you have what it takes, we want to hear from you!

Location: Pohnpei State Department of Health Services in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Timeline: 2 internships will be offered each year. Each internship will be two calendar months in duration and must be completed between January-May or May-December. 

Student Characteristics

It takes a special kind of person to succeed in this internship – one who is not afraid of challenges, is flexible and adaptable to working in a developing country environment, getting to know people of different cultures, backgrounds, and languages, embracing change, and making the most out of what others might see as obstacles, but which you know are just opportunities for growth! Because of the unique nature of this internship, we have identified the following essential characteristics that we look for in our students, and which have allowed past interns from public health, medical, international development and other backgrounds from the US and Australia to be successful in the internship that launched their global health careers.

  • Cultural Sensitivity: comfortable working with people, both as colleagues and target populations, who come from cultural backgrounds which are different than your own, including life experiences and global explanatory models, and in whom English is not their first language.
  • Communication Skills: ability to communicate effectively, both written and verbal, with people from different cultural backgrounds, in the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of public health programs; particularly important to have the ability to communicate public health ideas and concepts, such as health promotion topics, at a level appropriate to English as a Second Language (ESL) audiences of various capabilities.
  • Strong Work Ethic and Initiative: a self-starter who is dedicated to meeting the goals of the project, is consistently on time, submits quality work, and is willing to take on additional duties and responsibilities as opportunities for further growth and development present themselves.
  • Teamwork and Interpersonal Skills: ability to work well with a multidisciplinary team who come from different cultural backgrounds than your own, in a collaborative, consultative and respectful manner that inspires teamwork and a commitment to meeting project goals.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: ability to identify and overcome problems as they arise through strong critical thinking and analytical skills as a means of meeting project goals, but which are appropriate solutions to the local context.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: public health in the Pacific is practiced in a resource-limited environment that requires practitioners to become flexible and adaptable in how their organization meets goals, and requires that interns adopt the moto, improvise, adapt and overcome in meeting everyday challenges.
  • Computer and Technical Skills: competency in the use of MS Office, with a special emphasis on Excel as a means of data entry and analysis; although not always required, familiarity with 4 database and analysis programs, particularly Epi Info, is useful; solid understanding of basic public health science skills from a range of disciplines, such as health promotion, epidemiology, health management, behavioral health, nutrition, and so forth.


The Pohnpei Department of Health Services operates a number of Divisions, including public health, medical services, and community health, providing preventative and curative services at the community, clinical, and hospital-based levels. In addition to the public health department, which provides preventative services, including maternal and child health, behavioral health, cancer prevention, and immunization programs, Pohnpei Department of Health Services also operates community dispensaries and primary care clinics. Pohnpei State Hospital is an approximately eighty-bed general medical-surgical hospital with laboratory, medical imaging, and other ancillary services; and provides dental, ophthalmologic, general surgical, obstetrics-gynaecology, paediatrics, and other services. Clinical, public health, and teaching staff are a mix of Micronesians and ex-patriates, including physicians, nurses, laboratorians, pharmacists, and allied health workers from Fiji, the Philippines, and across the Pacific, giving the intern the opportunity to interact with a truly multinational staff, as they learn key global public health skills.

Supervision & Contact Info

Dr. Brian P. Mangum has worked as an international health practitioner, epidemiologist, and medical school professor in the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the United States, and the Asia-Pacific region for over fifteen years.

“I’ve worked in the developing world most of my adult life. I love the Pacific, and have chosen to make this my home, where I am raising my family. The reason for this is simple – this is a great place to live and work! Pacific Islanders are strong, hard-working and friendly. I truly feel part of the community here. While the professional challenges are immense, so are the rewards of seeing your work make a difference! And besides, isn’t that why you want to go into global health – to travel, work hard, and go where your education makes a difference? I know that was what drove me. Those whom you will work with on this internship are incredibly dedicated people who are eager to share their knowledge and expertise. If your passion is helping others, and you want to get experience in global health in a resource-limited environment, then this is the place for you!” – Brian P. Magnum 

Please note that although Dr. Mangum will provide coaching, teaching, and assistance as needed at regular intervals throughout the internship, a direct supervisor within the specific Division of the Department of Health Services to which the student is assigned will be identified to oversee the student’s day-to-day activities. For more information contact Dr. Magnum at or by phone at 011-691-320-2480, ext. 301.

Start Date
Spring semester
Fall semester
Summer semester
Pohnpei State Department of Health Services
Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia
Project Focus
Childhood Obesity
Mental Health
Opioid Use
Rural Health