Megan Davies, who has been working with Bristol Health Partners on an internship for the past three months, reflects on what she's learned during her time in Bristol.
I've always had a keen interest in public health, so the opportunity to undertake a funded internship as part of my PhD greatly appealed to me. I decided to put in an application and started the search for suitable placements. After falling in love with Bristol during several visits, I searched for public health organisations within the city, and found Bristol Health Partners.
Working with Bristol Health Partners has given me great insight into the structure of health services and the delivery of public health. Having done a masters in global health, I’ve learned a lot about health systems in other countries, yet much less about the UK. I was keen to learn how different organisations work together on improving health in the Bristol area. Initially, I felt like I suddenly knew relatively little about public health, as there were so many different aspects to it and organisations I hadn't come across. A week and a few meetings later, I felt like I was starting to grasp how it works (and even remembering some of the acronyms!) and where Bristol Health Partners sits in it all.
My PhD research focuses on smoking and substance misuse, so I worked mostly with the Drug and Alcohol Health Integration Team (HIT) as this aligned closely with my interests. I particularly enjoyed researching drug and alcohol issues in a local context, as my own research looks at these on a national scale. It’s been great to apply academic approaches to on-going projects and see how policy and research can work together effectively. My overall aim for doing an internship was to explore this relationship between the two in a local context, which was definitely met.
Working with Bristol Health Partners has given me opportunities I don’t believe I would have got from other internships. Collaborating with HIT members and being able to present my work at meetings with different stakeholders has been hugely rewarding. This is often a rare opportunity in academia, and one that will help me in communicating my own research and increasing its impact. I also really enjoyed helping to organise the event for HIT public contributors held on 22 March. It was fantastic to see public contributors and professionals engaging in discussions about what help is available for those leaving treatment, and what there needs to be more of. As my PhD is completely desk-based, meeting people who are keen to share their experiences reinforces why I want to work in public health.
One of the highlights of working at Bristol Health Partners has definitely been the team, who have been supportive throughout. Working in a PhD office can definitely feel solitary at times, so doing an internship with such a helpful and encouraging team has been fantastic. It’s also been a great opportunity to see that health research can be very collaborative in sectors outside of academia. Finally, having the opportunity to network with people from different organisations has been brilliant, providing some great insights into how health policies are implemented in Bristol and gaining a solid understanding of the structure of different stakeholders involved in public health.
I will miss working on grass-roots projects and being part of a brilliant core team, but I am hopeful I will collaborate with them again in the future, and I will definitely be back in Bristol. This internship has given me a lot of food for thought about the many opportunities available within the public health field.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds after my PhD, and I am confident this experience will help me in applying for relevant posts, whether that be in academia, other research organisations or a career in public health.