Thomas Tran, 2012 Public Health Leader in Practice

For the summer, I was tasked on three projects to help the Richmond County Health Department streamline operations and improve current processes. A brief overview of my projects is provided below:

  • Annual Report:As an intern, I created a new design for the annual report and automated the reporting system. I redesigned the annual report in Microsoft Word and linked the document to a Microsoft Excel document which would hold all the data and graphs that needed to be updated every year. This new system provided the Health Director an easy method for updating the annual report every year.
  • Vital Records: Additionally, I created a Microsoft Access database to help RCHD keep track of their vital records, which includes information from death certificates of individuals who died in the county. I created a system to track the death certificates electronically which would allow the administrators to easily look up past records.
  • Medication Assistance Program (MAP): My last project for the summer was to create a database to maintain records for MAP, which is a program that assists clients with prescription coverage if they meet certain criteria. I developed a Microsoft Excel Document that would automatically screen clients and a Microsoft Access Document for recordkeeping.


Along with my projects, I also had the opportunity to learn about the different services offered at RCHD. During my time in Rockingham, I spent time in the following areas: WIC, Environmental Health, Social Work, Nursing, and the Primary Care Clinic. Through this experience, I had the opportunity to participate in patient follow-up visits, conduct patient home visits, attend webinars to learn about upcoming technologies in public health, and observe well and septic tank inspections.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to attend the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors meetings in Raleigh. At this meeting, I learned about how health policies affect public health operations. For example, a contentious legislative issue discussed at this meeting was the SB 433, which is a bill that is speculated to diminish the role of public health in our communities. Based on the conversations at these meetings, local health directors expressed great concerns that this bill could allow county commissioners to develop their own system to determine qualifications for social service and health department jobs. Overall, these meetings helped me understand the political climate for public health and the impacts of health policies on public health organizations.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as an intern for the Richmond County Health Department. This internship allowed me to gain exposure to public health practice outside of my studies and to apply my skills to improve operations at a local health department. I would like to thank Tommy Jarrell and his team at the Richmond County Health Department for their support in my learning experience this summer. I also thank the North Carolina Institute for Public Health for providing this internship that provided me the opportunity to experience public health in North Carolina.