Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care (CIVIC)
CIVIC Health Services Research
Internship for Underrepresented Community College Students
The Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care (CIVIC), located at the VA Portland Health Care System, is sponsoring a paid internship for community college students to gain hands-on experience in health services research. Interns work directly with mentors and research teams to contribute to research on ways to improve quality and access to care for our veteran population. Individuals interested in working in healthcare or research may find this internship particularly insightful.
This internship is intended for community college students from groups historically excluded and underrepresented in research. This includes individuals who are Black, Native American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic or Latino, as well as other underrepresented groups. Please see the Eligibility section below for a full list of criteria.
CIVIC is comprised of 25 funded investigators and approximately 120 additional individuals who collaboratively conduct research across a broad range of topics including (but not limited to) mental health, cancer screening, opioids and pain, shared decision-making, coordination of healthcare, access to care, home-based primary care, and effects of COVID-19.
About the Internship Program
- Interns are hired as part-time or full-time VA temporary Federal employees (GS-2 Step 1)
- Interns receive a book fund of up to $250
- Work schedule and start and end dates of the internship will be determined by the intern and a principal investigator mentor
- In addition to working directly with a mentor and research team, the intern will participate in activities such as CIVIC conferences and meetings, analyst drop-in sessions and forums, and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) educational sessions such as Departmental Grand Rounds
Interns will have an opportunity to select from several possible mentors/projects. For details about projects and mentors, see the Available Projects section at the bottom of this webpage.
Students must meet the five qualifications listed below to be considered for the position:
1. Member of a historically excluded and underrepresented group (at least one of the following):
- Racial and ethnic groups: Black people or African Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, or people who are Hispanic or Latino
- Individuals with disabilities: People with physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- LGBTQIA+ individuals: Particularly transgender, genderqueer, or intersex people, but also including individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, or asexual
- First generation college students: Individuals who have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor's degree
- Generationally poor individuals: People from economically disadvantaged backgrounds (must meet at least two of the criteria listed below)
- Were or currently unhoused
- Were or currently are in the foster care system
- Were eligible for Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for 2 or more years
- Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor's degree
- Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants
- Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child
- Individuals impacted by the criminal justice system: People with personal or parental history with the criminal justice system, including incarceration
2. Currently enrolled in a community college in the Portland/Vancouver/Oregon City metro area
3. Completion of at least one year equivalent of college credit by June 2022
4. Reliable access to an internet-accessible computer or willing/able to work onsite at VA Portland Health Care System for the duration of the program
5. Individuals who have received a college degree are not eligible
How to Apply
To apply, please send:
- A cover letter that includes:
- Description of how you meet the eligibility criteria for the internship
- Description of what you would like to get out of this internship experience
- Description of your educational and professional goals
- Top 1 or 2 project areas you would be interested in working on
- A 1-page resume
- An unofficial transcript
- Two references who know you well and can speak to your qualifications. Please provide names, titles, and contact information for each reference (ex. Bob Smith, Manager, 503-000-0000, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Applications will be reviewed by a committee including investigators and staff with training or lived experience in anti-oppressive work and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring. The committee will review applications and offer interviews to a subset of applicants.
Potential Projects (other projects are likely to be available)
Project 1: Implementation of Shared Decision Making in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Stepped Wedge, Cluster-randomized Trial (RAISeD)
PI: Dr. Jennifer Barton, MD MCR
Summary: Shared decision making (SDM) is a process where medical decisions are made together by patients and clinicians, who take into account the best available information as well as patient values and preferences. SDM has been proposed as a way to reduce health disparities; however, there is little evidence to inform effective ways to implement this practice in the care of Veterans with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The purpose of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of a multi-component shared decision-making intervention on RA disease activity, adherence to RA medications and patient knowledge of RA. Research related activities students may be asked to assist with include recruitment of participants in rheumatology clinics, collecting data, data entry, and attending weekly team meetings. Students will have opportunities to collaborate on meeting abstracts, presentations, and/or manuscripts.
Project 2: Improving patient-centered communication and decision making for Veterans
PI: Dr. Christopher Slatore, MD
Summary: Dr. Slatore's team's research includes patients with and at-risk for developing lung cancer as well as Veterans considering whether to get their healthcare in or outside of the VA. They use rigorous quantitative methodologies to evaluate how communication and other health care processes are associated with patient-centered outcomes. Interns will work with Dr. Slatore and his team to develop a mentored research experience that aligns with their interests and goals. Interns typically do multiple research tasks including survey administration, data collection, qualitative data review and analyses, basic statistical analyses, and scientific writing. We will work with the intern so that by the end of their internship, they will have contributed to a scientific abstract, paper, or other research product that aligns with their career development goals.
Project 3:Interventions for Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Veterans
PI: Dr. Alan Teo, MD
Summary: Social isolation and loneliness are major public health threats that are directly linked to increased risk of suicide and other causes of mortality and morbidity. Rural veterans and older adults are more likely to experience social isolation and loneliness and the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the negative impacts of social isolation. We have two projects aiming to connect with veterans in their homes and reduce loneliness. One project involves testing the feasibility and acceptability of virtual yoga group classes as an intervention to reduce social isolation and loneliness among rural veterans. A second project aims to evaluate the effects for older veterans of a postcard-based intervention tailored to reduce loneliness in the context of the pandemic. A student research assistant could help with various recruitment related activities, such as preparing mailings, calling potential participants, and assisting with participant follow-up over the course of their participation in the study.