Feb 26, 2018 8:00 AM


Community Outreach Interns Charmaine Larson and Jocelynn May
Community Outreach Interns (left to right) Charmaine Larson and Jocelynn May

The community outreach interns at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) work on the front lines of cancer prevention education. They receive training from HCI health educators in cancer information and teaching strategies and take it out to health fairs and presentations in schools and businesses throughout Utah and the Mountain West.

Besides working in the community, they help researchers with data entry and provide ideas for new and innovative projects.

We interviewed some interns—Charmaine Larson from Utah Valley University and Jocelynn May from Brigham Young University—to learn about what they experienced.

What does an average day look like during your internship?

Charmaine: Every day is different, and that is what we love about it! Monday, we work at HCI doing projects or data entry related to cancer prevention. Tuesday through Friday, we participate in health events and give presentations to a variety of age groups.

Jocelynn: We also attend conferences or workshops for continuing education. We are always somewhere new, networking with professionals, and educating the public.

How does what you are doing apply to or help your schooling and future career?

Charmaine: All these things contribute to HCI’s mission and help our future goals. I would like to work in the community or hospital setting, teaching prevention in areas like nutrition, cancer, and tobacco. I feel like this internship provides me with skills for the goals I am working toward.

Jocelynn: My goals lead me to public health nursing. This internship gives me the opportunity to refine my skills with public education and interact with a variety of public health nurses. They have given me great advice about nursing school and help me see what public health nursing truly looks like.

What do you like best about the internship?

Charmaine: I love HCI because I find so much joy in helping people. I love when I can go out in the community, get to know people, and help others learn about cancer.

Jocelynn: I like working with my supervisors and learning from them. You can feel their confidence in you and their desire to help you grow. I have also discovered a love of teaching. It is rewarding to know that the information I share could be lifesaving for someone.

Share a positive experience you have had as an intern that relates to cancer prevention.

Charmaine: My favorite experiences are when I get to interact one-on-one with the public at health fairs or presentations at middle and high schools. It makes me feel like I am really making a difference.

Jocelynn: My favorite experience so far was going to a junior high and teaching the big 5 that we focus on for cancer prevention: tobacco cessation, nutrition, exercise, screening, and sun safety. I loved the enthusiastic questions and gasps of shock with new information. The kids were hungry to learn, and I was prepared to teach them. I had practiced with my very patient husband, who played the role of a snarky teenager a little too well. I also presented for my supervisors and extensively reviewed the material. Part of the fun was the reward of a good presentation after so much preparation.

What challenges do you face within or outside of the internship?

Charmaine: I find that my school and work schedules do not always fit with the internship schedule. Sometimes I miss out on HCI events because of it. There are opportunities, however, to go to events during the evening or on Saturdays, which help me get the internship hours I need.

Jocelynn: This internship provides fun and great experiences, but has some unique challenges. I am a home health and hospice aid in addition to my schooling. It has made it difficult to set times with my patients because my internship schedule changes. My husband and I, being the poor newlyweds we are, share a car. This means that I drive down to Provo to drop him off at school (sometimes as early as 5:30 a.m.), start visiting my patients, and then drive wherever I need to in the community.

What recommendations do you have for future interns?

Charmaine: Always learn from feedback. The outreach team is very good at giving instruction and helping you know where you can improve. Be outgoing and talk to others as much as you can at health events. Be reliable. Do your best to learn all you can about cancer and other subjects so that when you teach you will be more effective.

Jocelynn: If I could do it all over again, I would come into the internship already well versed on cancer prevention. That way I wouldn’t need to spend so much time researching and could have more complete answers for those who ask right away.

Learn more about the Community Outreach and Prevention Education program at HCI.

cancer prevention cancer learning center trainees