Reaction Blog: The IUD Project at Pro-Choice NY

The “Maybe The IUD” campaign was a recently launched promotion by Pro-Choice NY and the TORCH program to increase the knowledge and education surrounding the IUD methods of birth control. The TORCH program also launched an “IUD Teen Night” on April 19th, where teens from all over NYC were invited to attend a small gathering to learn more about this method of birth control. The purpose of this event was to debunk certain myths surrounding this method of contraception, that most of the time is often obtained by teens through misguided information from non-credible sources. Usually, these sources includes bogus websites offering ill-research information and misinterpreted consumer opinions that skew teens away from using this very effective method of birth control.

Some myths and facts surrounding the IUD are:

  • IUD’s are only for women who’ve had kids before
  • IUD’s increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • IUD’s increase the risk of STD’s
  • IUD’s increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies
  • IUD’s cause infertility in the long run
  • IUD’s cause perforations of the uterus
  • IUD’s  can fall out during sex

It is entirely wrong for organizations to promote such information for teens, especially when the above myths have proven to be exactly that – MYTHS! IUD Teen Night was a way for teens to get accurate information from people that share their same beliefs, ideas, and morals – other teens!

As one TORCH teen put it, in a T-Spot blog post saying, “…we got the purpose across which was to inform teens about the IUD and the myths that come from the media which limits TEENS to access this type of birth control”. To read more about this initiative please visit the Maybe The IUD website.




Reaction Blog: TORCH Teen Re-Blogged

I wanted to take the time to highlight the TORCH teens and their blog called the “T-Spot” and all of their wonderful and creative posts. Please take some time to look at some of the exciting and informative blogs and the issues that they have posted on.

Click the link to start exploring!

Great work TORCH!

The Future: NARAL & Beyond

With this post I end my summer journey at NARAL and I want to start by thanking those who worked along-side me on all the AHCCP and TORCH projects. I want to thank the interns from Columbia University for helping me learn my new skills and for always giving me constructive feedback when needed; Hannah, Emily, Lindsay, Amanda, and Lily. I also want to thank my mentors Faye and Pauline and for the great work they do and how supportive and flexible they were granted my work school did not allow me to participate as much, but thanks to them I excelled in many of projects. Pauline was gone towards the end of the internship, but she was very pleased with my work and I was happy to have her as a supervisor. Faye was also very exciting to work with and I want to thank her for letting me work with her teens – I had the best time with them. I want to thank Nicole and David for being awesome supporters of the interns and for making orientation and every day after a breeze.

The above people have been instrumental in my learning at NARAL and I am extremely happy with my experience and have really valuable skills to take back with me as I further my career. Currently, I am set to graduate from the Public Health program at Hunter this fall semester and am hoping to my post-baccalaureate at NYU in the summer of 2013. For the first two years of my husband’s active duty in the military I plan to stay in NY as I pursue my second degree, however, medical school will most likely be military school based where ever he is stationed. I want to pursue my career in clinical medicine as I initially planned when attending Long Island University for Athletic Training/Sports Medicine. However, I do want to specialize in international medicine with a strong focus on public health intervention and clinical practice overseas and abroad. Much of my work will focus around access to immunizations and HIV prevention and treatment in children and adolescents. I want to continue working in the public health sector even I am practicing as a medical provider.

My dream was to become a physician – I am finally chasing that dream…

Public Health: The Skills Needed for this New Field

Overall, the internship has allowed me to practice my skills in research, data collection, literature review writing, and program development, dissemination, and evaluation. The AHCCP has very minimal data analyze since the final curriculum is in the process of being evaluated, however, data was still being collected in the form of the extensive literature review and peer-educator focus groups. The data from the existing research was compiled into a literature review for program development purposes. Through the literature review we identified common themes and “best practices”, and through the focus groups we’ve identified certain teaching techniques and difficulties for teens when teaching health care providers.

I also had the chance to develop an evaluation component to another curriculum under the AHCCP program. This evaluation was already being used, however, I was asked to review it against the counterparts of the curriculum and identify any gaps between what was being taught by the peer educators and what was being evaluated. This was a simple assignment; however, I have not had much practice with developing program evaluations up to this point. We had decided on using paper forms of evaluation surveys versus electrical forms of the survey. However, we had also decided to send out a post-survey via survey monkey for participants to evaluate the presenters and materials presented rather than compare what they never knew to what they know now. The post-surveys were developed with the idea of program improvement; for peer education training on public speaking, presentation, dependability, etc.

Being able to practice my evaluation techniques has given me a better insight on program planning and program processing. I had previous experience in program implementation, but not program planning or program evaluation. Interning at NARAL, has really given me more insight and practice in this new skill set.


Fieldwork Project at NARAL

During my internship at NARAL Pro-Choice, I was given the responsibility of working on numerous projects that were outside my original assigned duties. I was asked to conduct research and literature reviews on training front-line staff on how to communicate effectively with teens in a health care setting. The project composed of deriving information on what is to be considered “front-line staff”, how they interacted with the teens, whether clinics are teen-friendly, and the actual need for front-line training. During the process of the literature, various critical points were examined:

  • Perception and understand of adolescent development by front-line staff
  • Good communication skills
  • Respect and non-judgmental attitudes towards teens
  • Confidentiality
  • Service Integration
  • Appointment Scheduling
  • Creating a comfortable and welcoming environment
  • Teen participation and feedback
  • Clinic Support Services

The literature review and past research have identified such areas of focus as “best-practices”. Using these critical components, we used integral part in the development and dissemination of the “Front-Line Training” curriculum and evaluations. In preparation for the development of the training, our peer educators were also asked for their feedback since they were the facilitators that were going to be implementing said project. Questions that were identified in an intern-lead focus group were:

  • How comfortable do you feel talking to health care professionals?
  • What learning techniques are you most comfortable with?
  • How important is the communication between you and front-line staff at your doctor’s office?

After extensive, research and information gathering the AHCCP interns worked closely together to develop a curriculum that was both easy to teach for the teens, but understandable for the health care professionals they were servicing. The end product is still in revision, but the current edition is on file and being reviewed by the Department of Health – this organization provides most of the funding for the Adolescent Health Care Communication Project (AHCCP) and has asked the program to start curriculum development before the end of FY2012.

Challenges: The challenges the interns faced most was

  • Deciding what teaching techniques work both with teens and health care professionals
  • Deciding the format to use
  • Deciding if we wanted to use certain wording
  • The length and materials needed for each section in the training
  • What learning model to use
  • The literature Review (however, most literature reviews need revision)
  • Expected date of completion

Success: How we overcame each barrier

  • The techniques we agreed on using were, active group discussion, role-plays, brainstorming, agree and disagree, myth and facts, and hands on activity. Based on certain evidence-based practices that have used these techniques have said that they work best with any populace.
  • We used a format that transitions easily from section to the next
  • The wording we used was between 10th-12th grade level
  • The curriculum was designed used

Currently, the curriculum is in revisions and the evaluations as well. The new incoming interns will continue to work with the program and revise the curriculum as requested by the DOH. Below you can view some of the literature review and the current Front-Line Training Curriculum.

Reaction Blog: The Last Summer Leadership Institute Training for TORCH

This week was the last day of the Leadership Training Institute for the TORCH teens this summer. The kids are going on a break, the interns are leaving, and the directors are going on vacation right before the fall starts and the pandemonium of the peer education programs start for the coming semester. I seem to have been writing most of blog posts about the teens, but I have really enjoyed their company and learning from them has also been very valuable to me. Not only have I added this experience to my resume, but I have continued to learn more about other pregnancy prevention and youth development programs and how they work.

The TORCH program is very similar to the program I am currently working with. The Urban Health Plan, Inc. pregnancy prevention program is also a dual program for teens where youth development and education is incorporated into a clinical component of adolescent care. Unlike the TORCH program, the Urban Health Plan, Inc offers comprehensive and specialty adolescent care. That truly is the only difference between programs, however, the TORCH program is more peer lead and the teens have more control of what they teach. The Urban Health Plan, Inc. program is run by educators and mostly trained staff. We do have a peer education program, but they are not as widely used as the TORCH peer education program. But both programs have seemingly integral components that work well together when implemented.

For the last training session, the teens were able to actively engage in a jeopardy game about the recent health care reform changes made by President Obama. We focused on primary issues surrounding the debate – we focused on the changes surrounding women, children, and the elderly, Medicaid and Medicare, preventative measures, and other random facts about the “Obama Care” laws. What was interesting to note is that during the initial stages of research when we were preparing the questions for the game, many of the interns didn’t know about many of the changes that had recently taken effect. We received the same reaction from the teens as well- many of them didn’t even know what “Obama Care” was.

The teens seemed to enjoy the activity and had taken home with them some knowledge of the new health care reform act. Hopefully, we will continue to work with the teens later on.

Want to learn more about TORCH? Watch the YouTube video below!

Applying the Skills: Community Health & NARAL

As my end date approaches, it has come to my attention those internships should definitely be longer than a few months. An internship is an opportunity to grow and learn and to apply whatever it is that you learned in your didactic courses in the real world. However, in a mere 3-4 months, the skills I’ve learned surround data collection, curriculum development, and evaluation has been instrumental in developing as a public health professional.

In one of the courses required at Hunter College, Research Symposium, students learned an array of research methods and concepts. Students learned to properly conduct literature reviews, evaluations, and research methods. As mentioned preciously, part of the work that was required of me was to evaluate and conduct a major literature review on how front-line staff communicates with their adolescent patients. The most difficult part of this fieldwork project must have been the freedom that was given to me to create an evaluation to a curriculum. I was given the opportunity to be free and creative with the evaluation component of the project. That meant that my ideas and concepts would be greatly evaluated at the end of the final piece. There is really no right or wrong way to develop an evaluation, however, one must still follow a strict outline in order to develop an effective piece. The layout, the questions, the colors, the font, the page size, the wording, the branding – all of theses integral components of an evaluation were left up to me to decide. I took this opportunity to do just that – I was creative, yet informative, while still maintaining the critical structures of an effective evaluation. The end product certainly, was profound in its work. It captured all the data needed for reporting, it was legible and easy to read, the layout was navigationally easy, and core concepts of evaluation were kept and maintained throughout. This idea was kept throughout the evaluation components of other curriculums; Keep It Real With Your Doctor & Patient, Adolescent Standardized Patient Project, and Front-Line Training.

I also had the opportunity of learning much about literature reviews and how critical they are in finding new areas that lack in fundamental research. At NARAL, I was asked to conduct a literature review on Front-line training and on minor’s rights. However, the minor’s rights literature review assignment was later handed to another intern because of my workload. Learning how to effectively research, compile, and present past findings in a literature review has helped me tremendously in my work at NARAL. However, the art of conducting literature reviews, takes practice, but are very helpful in identifying new areas or questions for research. Thankfully, at NARAL, I had the opportunity to practice these skills.

Professional Skills at NARAL- Learning From the TORCH Teens

Interning at NARAL has been quite an experience and having the opportunity to continue to work with teens is even better. The TORCH Peer Educators are a wonderful and versatile group on young individuals. Aside from the daily work at NARAL, they are a unique group of teens that love life, teaching, and being young. I have extensive background in youth development and youth education, but working with the TORCH teens have allowed me to acquire a new, and useful set of professional skills.

Learning to be open-minded and honest are skills that not every employer looks for in a resume or  an interview. However, these are skills that are required when working with youth and this is what I learned from working with TORCH for the last 4 weeks. When topics about sexual and reproductive health and medical care come up, teens have a lot to say. It can be easily interpreted that teens are rambunctious and blurt certain things out that are either confusing or just plain crazy. However, teens do have the right to speak their minds nevertheless, tell you how they want they want to be treated by their doctors. Being open-minded and allowing new ideas to circulate in your understanding of the teens nature is critical in working with them. Unknowingly, we judge and criticize teens for being this aggressive, but it is who they are. What we can do as adults, is simply be aware and have open-minds when working with teens. Without passing judgment, we as adults, should always support the ideas and thoughts of teens. Now, these thoughts must be positive thoughts and ideas that foster positive youth development – not ideas or thought that promote the opposite. This is away that teens can relate to you – even as an adult- you have the ability to become one with them, while still allowing mutual respect between the teacher and the student.

Learning to be honest and open with teens, is a very useful tool. It can allow you to be honest and open with other individuals you might be working with. When teens are given the chance to change, and by that I mean their behavior and decisions, teens are self-promoting and creating a brighter future for themselves. However, this can not be possible, if youth providers do not have open-minds and open-hearts to also learn from teens, but teach them as well.

TORCH Summer Leadership Training Institute

This summer, my intern duties have also asked that I put my “youth-loving” skills to good use. The Teens Outreach Reproductive CHallenge (TORCH) program is composed of strong, young, peer educators, that are trained in everything that has to do with sexual and … Continue reading