Internship Guidelines 2020/21
The VADA Program
The Visual and Automated Disease Analytics (VADA) Program is funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The VADA Program is a collaborative training initiative of the University of Manitoba (UM) and University of Victoria. It is designed to train the next generation of health, health informatics, and computational science graduate students to translate complex health data into insights that can be used to improve the health of populations and support health professional decision making. Through the VADA Program, students will gain cutting-edge visual and analytic skills within a cooperative and experiential learning environment, positioning them to become highly desirable recruits within industry and academia.
The addition of an internship to the VADA Program highlights the relationship between learning, research and decision-making; provides a linkage between students and researchers; and integrates coursework with supervised fieldwork undertaken in local, provincial, or national healthcare settings.
Goals of the Internship
- To provide researchers with opportunities to involve students in applied research projects that reflect relevant research needs of the host agency.
- To provide mentoring opportunities for students.
- To expose students to opportunities and challenges regarding the interface between research and decision-making.
- To facilitate interactions and learning experiences for students and researchers.
The VADA Program seeks to establish internship/lab exchange opportunities with agencies and researchers that have:
- A commitment to the provision of a high-quality learning environment for the student.
- A willingness to support the educational policies, requirements, and standards that are set forth for the internship
- Resources available to the student for the successful completion of projects.
Agencies are expected to reimburse the students for the term of their internship/lab exchange to acknowledge their contributions to the work of the agency.
General Objectives of Training
To successfully complete the knowledge and skill development components of the internship, students are expected to:
- Understand the structure/policies/function of the organization or agency in which the internship occurs, as well as the social, political, and economic context in which the organization or agency exists and functions.
- Understand issues of confidentiality, privacy, access, and reporting of results.
- Engage in projects in a real-world setting that are consistent with the purpose of the VADA Program and the host research organization/agency mandate, including:
- conceptualizing and planning specific projects for completion during the internship;
- determining the resources necessary to complete the projects and negotiating for
required input, organizational commitment and resources (material and human);
- preparing reports as required and presenting/discussing the findings as required; and,
- providing input related to on-going work in the project areas at the host site.
- Participate as an effective team member.
COVID-19 Impacts on Internship Placements
While typically the VADA Program would encourage and support trainees to relocate to the location of their host for the duration of their placement and benefit from the opportunity to experience another research/work environment in person, this is no longer the case. Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 epidemic, trainees are encouraged and supported to complete their internship placement remotely if at all possible. Placements for the majority of trainees in the 2019 cohort were completed successfully in a remote environment. Hosts should ensure that they will hold regular virtual meetings with students and be reasonably available while trainees are carrying out duties remotely. Hosts are encouraged to contact the program coordinator for any questions.
Formalizing the Internship
- Internships for Master’s and PhD students must be a minimum of 8 weeks and 16 weeks, respectively, of full-time work, and should not exceed 4 months of full-time work. Alternative equivalent arrangements maybe made, such as completion of internships on a part-time basis over an extended period.
- Students typically initiate discussions with potential internship agencies. The VADA Program provides support in negotiating and finalizing the internship arrangements. Specific conditions of the internship are documented in an Internship Agreement Form, signed by the agency supervisor, the student, and the VADA Program.
- A supervisory committee is established, with a representative from the internship agency and the VADA Program. The committee communicates early in the internship to ensure that the placement is proceeding as planned, and again midway through the internship, and at the end of the internship.
- Midway through the internship, the student’s faculty advisory will complete a midterm check in form which will be forwarded to the program coordinator.
- The internship is completed with a formal Internship Appraisal Form, prepared by the agency and signed by the agency supervisor, student, and the VADA Program. The intent of the performance appraisal is to provide feedback to the student on skill areas of strength and skill areas requiring further development as well as providing helpful advice to the site supervisor regarding internship management.
- The student also prepares a 1-2 page report on his/her internship experience, which is confidential to VADA Program and will assist the VADA Program in continuing to develop quality internship experiences.