In 1998, ABC established its first formal internship program with the dietetic program at Southwest Texas State University (SWT). The SWT dietetic internship program is a four-day, on-site rotation program that introduces undergraduate students to the health benefits of herbs in order to incorporate this knowledge into their future professional practice. In 1999, this program expanded to incorporate dietetic Ph.D. candidates from Texas A&M University (TAMU). During 2000, ABC hosted a medical elective internship, fourth-year pharmacy student rotations, and two undergraduate independent study students learning about medicinal plants.
This year, in addition to continuing its relationships with TAMU and SWT dietetic programs, ABC hosted its first intern from the Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas post-baccalaureate dietetic internship program. ABC also continues to host pharmacy student rotations from the University of Texas at Austin (UT), and the University of Houston (UH).
These interns provide crucial assistance in the Education Department. Two pharmacy doctoral interns contributed to ABC’s pending CME book, the Healthcare Professionals Guide to Commonly Used Herbs. Lan Liu (UT) incorporated peer reviewer comments to draft text, and Chelsea Tran (UH) initiated cross-reference tables for European and American phytomedicine products and started a medical and pharmacological glossary.
Dietetic interns Katherine Griffin (Presbyterian Hospital); Sarah Harper Becker, Sarah Davis, Angie Fiscus, Brady McConnell, Maggie Meyer, Patti Moody and Jill Ostendorf (SWT); Erin Strieff, Alicia Currado, Amanda Scott, and Cindy Warren (TAMU) all helped to gather and organize additional research material. Several dietetic interns worked on additional projects during their time at ABC, beginning research for the next guides in the “Herbs and Health Series” of educational pamphlets. (The first in the series, Common Herbs, is a popular ABC publication, with more than four million in print.)
During this summer ABC expects at least two undergraduate independent study interns, and plans varied experiences for these students, including time with a Chinese herbalist and a Western herbalist. ABC arranged for one intern to spend five weeks with Gary P. Nabhan, Ph.D., and Laurie Monti, Ph.D., both of Northern Arizona University in Tucson. Tim Lowery, a pharmacy undergraduate student from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, will assist with their ethnobotanical research among the Seri Indians of Mexico, before spending a few weeks working at ABC.
The major objective in the Internship Program is to expand students’ awareness of the breadth and depth of reliable sources of scientific information about herbs and phytomedicines. Of course, they also gain greater confidence in the benefits of herbal medicine generally, and in their ability to find information on their proper use. Another objective is to help the interns develop and become familiar with a list of reference books and journals that will prove useful during their careers. Most interns admit that they had no idea that there is so much published research in this field.
“This certainly is a valuable experience for our interns,” said B.J. Friedman, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., director of the SWT dietetic internship. “It exposes them to information they typically wouldn’t get in their academic programs. And it’s fun. They enjoy it.”
Thirty-eight dietetic educators who visited ABC in March as part of a multi-state regional conference were very excited to learn of ABC internship opportunities. As a result of this visit, several more schools are now considering adding an ABC rotation to their students’ internship options.
The students generally express enthusiasm for the relaxed but stimulating environment at ABC. They are also pleasantly surprised by the unique experience of horticultural work with medicinal plants as a feature of the internship.
ABC has received inquiries from students in Israel, India, Brazil, Pakistan, Wisconsin, Tennessee and across Texas for summer internships. Hopefully, in years to come ABC will locate funding sources for summer stipends to help some of the more distant students.
To develop an internship program or rotation at ABC, please email