International Internship with Vive Peru

The forensic biology program has so many possible career options, which may cause some difficulty in finding an internship if a career path is uncertain. Thankfully I have always known I wanted to work in the medical field so this was the perfect internship for me. My internship with Vive Peru combined my love of travel with my desire to learn more about the medical field. With this program, I was able to shadow doctors from several different specialties in multiple hospitals and clinics in Trujillo, Peru, assist with large medical campaigns, and volunteer in a small community adjacent to Trujillo.

Embry-Riddle Forensic Biology student travels to Peru to assist in vaccinations

Due to the nature of the program, shadowing doctors in hospitals in a foreign country, it was very structured and the only decisions I could make was which doctor I wanted to shadow that day. However, creativity could be used for the volunteer efforts. I could do all of the decision making for what activities we were going to do with the children we worked with, with only one constraint: the activity had to be related to public health. Due to the structure of the program, the learning objectives were set out for each of the hospitals we visited based on what the previous volunteers experienced in the past.

My microbiology course at ERAU was beyond helpful when working in the lab and explaining what was going on to my interpreter who did not understand any medical or biological sciences. I was able to point out differences between the way the labs run in Peru versus what we were taught in class. Many of the differences throughout the hospitals and clinics, not just in the labs, were due to lack of funding and supplies. It was definitely a culture shock to see the lack of sanitation and sterilization, but that only happened because they did not have enough supplies to use a new set of gloves or dental tools or even agar plates for each patient.

I am so grateful for this internship and opportunity. Peru was a beautiful place with beautiful people. The program does an amazing job of connecting volunteers with the community and making a real difference in the community. Many of the patients at the free medical campaigns said the only go see the doctors when these medical campaigns were held as they could not afford to see a doctor otherwise. The children in the community where I volunteered are so grateful for us and were so sad to see us leave. Learning about medicine and watching doctors work was amazing but seeing the change that my contribution made to the community was much more fulfilling.

Forensic Biology Student Madison Babione’s Internship at Desert Tox, LLC.

When I started in the forensic biology program at Embry-Riddle, I didn’t exactly know what direction I wanted to go in. Since the major is filled with many different paths including biology, chemistry and even law, I wanted to explore my options. To challenge myself, I looked for an internship involving chemistry because after taking 5 semesters of chemistry in the course of my undergraduate career, I felt like it would be beneficial for me to explore the field outside of the classroom.

After searching around, I was extremely lucky to have the opportunity to be an intern at Desert Tox LLC. This private drug testing laboratory was just what I was looking for.

My supervisor Mike was extremely open in allowing me to decide what I wanted to learn in this internship. With his help, we put together a list of objectives and before I knew it, my internship had started. I was able to observe drug sample collections, run validation studies and file reports, and see what it really took to run a successful lab.

I was very grateful for my chemistry background when coming into this internship. When I observed these tests and figured out how they worked, I was able to do further research on the exact mechanisms of detection that were being used and really understand not only what the machines were doing but what molecular mechanisms were at work. This was a really good feeling.

Student Madison Babione at her internship with Desert Tox, LLC.

This internship gave me a deeper understanding of not only chemistry but also one of the directions I could go in my career. It also helped me with my senior year biology classes because after learning what I did during my internship, it actually became extremely relevant in my senior year coursework. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to work there.