Ruthanne Salsbury is a student in the Master's in Public Health, Public Health Practice and Policy program. As a benefit of this online program, Ruthanne is able to continue working full time while she completes her degree. In addition to her regular position, she is completing an internship at her workplace, which enables her to work on a different area of interest.

Ruthanne is currently employed and interning at the Association for Public Health Laboratories (APHL) as a Specialist in the program NewSTEPs. 

What is your internship experience while at SPH?

For my internship at APHL, I am involved in improving best practices for newborn screenings. As newborn screening procedures advance and evolve, there continues to be a potential for improvement regarding the recognition and reporting of incidental findings. (Incidental findings can be defined as previously undiagnosed medical or psychiatric conditions that are discovered unintentionally and are unrelated to the current condition which is being treated or for which tests are being performed.) Currently, there are no existing suggestions for best practices regarding the reporting and follow-up procedures for these incidental findings. Through my internship, I hope to gain a stronger understanding of how newborn screening programs handle various procedures around incidental findings. I will be following-up with programs that have missing/incomplete data from a survey that was disseminated last summer, aggregating data, and working with my team to identify a list of suggested practices.  

What types of work do you do for your internship?

Through my internship, I have the opportunity to build relationships with newborn screening programs across the nation. I will aggregate, analyze, and identify a list of best practices to be disseminated nationally. I will also have the opportunity to contribute to the development of a presentation and manuscript regarding how various newborn screening programs respond to incidental findings, which could be shared at future newborn screening and genetics-related conferences.  

Why did you select this internship?

Through my internship at APHL, I will gain a better understanding of how various newborn screening programs respond to incidental findings. Based on the data collected, I may have the opportunity to advocate for new conditions that should be part of routine screenings. Additionally, I will have the opportunity to develop new relationships with newborn screening labs. I hope to continue to pursue professional development activities such as presenting this data at future conferences.  

What did your internship teach you that went beyond what you learned in the classroom?

Through my internship, I am able to witness firsthand the constantly evolving and dynamic nature of healthcare systems. It’s critical that all areas of health work collaboratively to address existing and emerging public health concerns. Programs can greatly learn from the challenges faced and successes achieved by other programs.  

How did your SPH internship help shape your future goals and career plans?

My career goals include advocating for vulnerable populations, particularly children with disabilities. As a current employee and intern at APHL, I hope to continue to learn about the national scope of newborn screening. I hope to develop stronger relationships with and to encourage collaboration with newborn screening programs, follow-up staff, patient advocacy groups, and clinical networks. Additionally, I would like to continue to pursue professional development activities that provide me with new skills and knowledge to grow as a public health professional.

What are some of the most important professional skills or connections you gained?

Though this internship, I continue to witness the value of building relationships and working collaboratively. I have the opportunity to reach out to newborn screening programs across the nation and assess their needs as well as identify suggestions for best practices.