Research for a Healthcare Documentary

Olivia Babler-Lopez
Emphasis Area
Public Health

Olivia Babler-Lopez pitched an internship to conduct research on U.S. healthcare policies and practices for a documentary.

How did you get your internship?

I've been a student worker for the University of Arizona's School of Theatre, Film, and Television for the past four years. Through this work, I found out that one of the professors in this department was filming a documentary called America's Health. When I discovered this, I was intrigued by the documentary's concept and contemplated approaching the professor to ask if she would be willing to take on an intern. After learning more about the documentary, I discovered that it not only focused on my Applied Humanities major's emphasis, Public Health, but also focused on minority groups, which is the demographic with which I hope to work professionally in the future. The professor was excited to take me on as an intern, so I began filling out the internship paperwork and set up a time to complete the paperwork with her and to also discuss internship expectations.

What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience? 

The majority of my work for the internship was research for the documentary itself. My research involved finding, cataloging, and summarizing papers, articles, and journals so that my internship supervisor can use the information while documenting in the field and incorporating it into the documentary as needed. Research was my objective during my internship because my site supervisor wanted to better understand the present backdrop of America's health status at the federal, state, and local levels. Some of the suggested tasks by my site supervisor included completing literature reviews, studying insurance-related issues and policies, and conducting further research. It was also important that I prepared my research in an organized manner, to better highlight important topics of discussion for the documentary so that my site supervisor could easily distinguish topics of interest that she wanted to focus on.

How did your Applied Humanities major coursework help prepare you to obtain an internship?

Many of the core courses we have taken prior to the internship course prepared me for my internship. I feel that the course that helped prepare me most for my internship was the course PAH 383 Pre-Internship: Building Career Readiness. In this course, we had the opportunity to gain more insight into building our resumes, writing cover letters, identifying transferable skills, and more. By being able to identify and build these skills I felt that I was able to grow more confident in my abilities. As my internship was not necessarily traditional, I had to ask my site supervisor if she would be willing to take on an intern as she hadn’t had one before. In building my confidence in my abilities, I was able to secure this internship, whereas in the past I may have not done this and just looked and applied to internship opportunities that I knew needed interns.

What was the most satisfying part of your internship?

The most satisfying part of my internship experience was being able to meet with my internship site supervisor for the "Foundational Narrative" assignment for the PAH 493 Internship course. Not only did this allow me to gain valuable insight into my site supervisor's view of the documentary and what it means to her, but during this meeting, I asked her to support my experience with weekly check-ins. Asking her if she would be willing for weekly email check-ins was important to me as these check-ins allowed me to touch base with her and also ensure that I was on track with my work for her.

Describe a big project that you worked on.

A documentary itself is considered a “big project” as a lot of time and effort goes into the making of it. Although this documentary is far from finished, this documentary aims to inform the public about systemic issues in healthcare. With the goal of educating the public on different healthcare systems. America's Health starts a dialogue on healthcare access by humanizing Americans' struggles with healthcare. The documentary will examine the present situation of healthcare in America as well as how the existing healthcare system affects Americans' daily lives. Thus far, the filmmakers have explored a few different healthcare systems in the United States, including the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona, the Nuka system of care in Alaska, and healthcare systems in Ohio.

What was the most significant contribution you made?

I feel that the biggest contribution that I made was when I conducted research that was not specifically requested by my site supervisor that opened the door to understanding another system of care. In my research, I was able to find numerous other healthcare organizations that were utilizing a specific system of care that I was already doing research on. This system of care was originally developed and introduced in Alaska. I found that a number of healthcare organizations and centers had started integrating aspects of this system of care which created avenues for further research. This also created additional opportunities for my site supervisor to interview these various communities and understand how this specific system of care is being integrated into their healthcare systems.

What advice do you have for other students as they search for their internship?

For students that are either searching for or beginning their internship, my first piece of advice would be to believe in yourself. This experience can seem very daunting at first as many students have had very little professional experience in their field of study. This is an opportunity to gain that experience. It is also important to recognize the skills that you already possess and assess how you can incorporate those into your internship experience. It is also a good idea to identify skills that you would like to continue to grow and find ways in which you can do that. Finally, it is important to remember that the Applied Humanities Internship Team is there to help you, they also want to help you. So if you have any questions, please reach out to them as they will be more than happy to help you and encourage you in any way that they can.