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Kelly Licata

MPH student Kelly Licata talks about her Applied Practice Experience

Students in the Master of Public Health program in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois have had to adjust their internships—known as Applied Practice Experiences—because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Periodically, we will speak with them about how those changes have affected their summer plans and potentially career paths. Today with speak with Kelly Licata.

Q: How are your experiences different from what you expected?
A: Off the bat, I did not expect to be doing my internship remotely. I was expecting the immersive experience of working in the office, full-time, sitting in on meetings and programs that I get to learn from.  But seeing as Aging Care Connections works with a much higher-risk population, everything is moved to online resources and I’m interacting with clients via Zoom.  
Q: Are you doing something different for your APE than what you trained for?
A: No, the MPH program at U of I really prepares us for anything and my APE has moved a lot of its resources online, which has allowed my APE to move forward just with some flexibility of how we are providing education, information and data analysis to put our focus on whatever older adults need the most. 
Q: Does your APE work lead you to think about a different career path?
A: I’ve loved completing my APE at Aging Care Connections; it’s been a really great experience and despite working remotely, it’s been hands-on. I wouldn’t say it’s changed my career path, I’m still interested in policy and healthcare resources regarding older adults.
Q: What happened to your original APE?
A: I was really lucky that my APE was not cancelled or altered too significantly, that this placement and project is pretty much the original without data collection being administered in face-to-face surveys and teaching all programs through Zoom format and not on-site.  
Q: Are you working remotely?
A: I am working remotely. It’s definitely different than what I anticipated since now I can just roll out of bed and start working, but there’s still plenty to do and I am definitely learning a lot as we go!  
Q: Has anything been frustrating about your change in APE status?
A: The most frustrating part about the changes with my APE project are really just the lack of face-to-face interaction with my preceptor, team members and clients.  I was really looking forward to the hands-on experience of leading class programs face to face and getting to know our clients on a deeper level, and that can be tough on Zoom.  Also, our clients are older adults and Zoom can be challenging  for any new user. They’ve gotten the hang of Zoom with impressive speed but there still can be technological issues that sometimes arise in our classes and it can be difficult to troubleshoot for them.  
Q: What are you missing out on because of the pandemic, in terms of working face-to-face with people?
A: It’s been really interesting to say the least of starting a position when you haven’t met 95 percent of your co-workers.  To hop in on conference calls where you’ve never interacted with anyone face to face is a different experience.  There’s always a split second when I join Zoom meetings or conference calls that everyone thinks that they’ve got a Zoom crasher joining.  
Q: What advice do you have for future students who might have disrupted internships or APEs?
A: I guess just be flexible and open to any new program or project you may come across.  There’s still ways to complete APEs if you’re open to new ideas and different solutions.  

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