A Unique Internship Solution: A Conversation with a Health TeleSquad Instructor

Written by Sydney Colbert

On June 23, 2021

Published: June 23rd, 2021

Written by: Former Program Associate, Jodi Suckle

A Rare Opportunity for High School Students

Health TeleSquads offer high school students a rare opportunity to shadow local medical professionals to deliver critical health services to resource-limited communities in both rural and urban settings. Students are able to learn about the Squads Abroad medical program methodology and speak with local healthcare workers. Health TeleSquads also culminates in two live clinic sessions at a physical urban clinic, supported by advanced telemedical equipment to optimize learning outcomes.

We sat down with Lea Ann Smith, a STEM Academy Leader at Essex High School in Essex Junction, Vermont, to learn more about her students’ experiences in Global Health TeleSquads and the value of virtual experiential education.

Health TeleSquads volunteers will get the opportunity to have a Q&A with Health Program Manager, Doctora Gladys (pictured above).

Can you describe your class and students?

Lea Ann Smith: It is a STEM Internship class. The students are mostly in 11th grade. Students work on career skills, then they get the opportunity to do a 40-hour internship in the community.

Why did you decide to do a TeleSquad with this class?

Lea Ann: It has been difficult to find in-person internships this year, especially for students who are interested in medicine. A TeleSquad sounded like a good way for students to get clinical experience virtually.

What do you think are the benefits of experiential learning?

Lea Ann: There is really no substitute for seeing something first-hand. There is so much to be seen about how a certain career looks and feels. High school students really enjoy the opportunity to see their potential career choices in person before going to college and spending so much time and money to study a specific field.

What do you think are the benefits of virtual experiential learning? And do you think it’s something you will continue to incorporate into your class in the future?

Lea Ann: Virtual experiential learning allows students to see something interesting that isn’t available in their home community. I will continue to do this even after the pandemic ends.

How do Health TeleSquads add to or enhance what you were already doing in class?

Lea Ann: It had two interesting uses in my class. It replaced the in-person experiences that students typically have in local hospitals, and there was also the added benefit of seeing how the medical system works in another country.

Can you share a few key takeaways of your students from the TeleSquad?

Lea Ann: They gained a greater understanding of the day-to-day life of doctors and of the cultural impact on health and healthcare. They got a first-hand look at differing levels of health care in different countries. The TeleSquad made the students more focused on helping people around the world and showed them a working model for introducing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Global Health TeleSquads volunteers can expect to shadow local community doctors as they utilize a mobile optometry station like the one pictured above.

Making A Lasting Impact With TeleSquads

By participating in Global Health TeleSquads, high school educators like Lea Ann are transforming the futures of their students and the communities they work with abroad. If you’d like to learn more about engaging your students with live medical cases and community service opportunities virtually or in person, check out our website! We work in communities in Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama to support healthcare programs in under-resourced communities and help resolve health, education, and economic disparities.


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Through virtual or in-country programs, Squads are passionate groups of volunteers who mobilize abroad to create positive change. Each Squad type has a skill-based focus area that support the education, health and economic development objectives of community partners.
Squads are passionate groups of volunteers who mobilize abroad to create positive change. Each Squad type has a skill-based focus area that support the education, health and economic development objectives of community partners. Faculty choose their dates, duration (typically 1-2 weeks), and their site location from one of our six program countries.
Squads Abroad is a 501c3 non-profit organization under our parent company Global Brigades, a Platinum Level Guidestar member for Financial Transparency. Since 2004, our organization has collectively mobilized more than 70,000 international volunteers to help resolve global health and economic disparities around the world.