My Internship at Snohomish Health District
By Vy. N
During the summer, I am doing my internship at Snohomish health District. My intern consists of two parts: program shadowing and projects. For program shadowing, I will go out to the field with environmental health specialists and gain exposure to a variety of environmental and public issues. Field activities include routine inspections, on-site consultations, and complaint follow-ups. For the project, I will work alongside the Childcare Outreach and Safety Environment teams to develop a STARS training class for childhood educators, parents, and care givers about Air Quality at childcare facilities. The Air Quality project will be focused on Outdoor Air Pollution, as Washington state experienced many wildfires last summer. Wildfire smoke substantially impacts children’s health since they are more vulnerable to air pollution. For the other project, I will research and update the environmental health components of Health and Safety Assessment in Childcare setting, which has been outdated for a long time.
Vy checking mussel traps in Everett.
I applied for this internship around late April. Snohomish Health District had two internship positions this summer, one in their food safety program and another one under childcare outreach. I thought the childcare outreach internship was a good fit for my experience working in childcare centers and the classes I’ve taken in children disparity. They called me for a phone interview the day after I applied. My interview was about 15 – 20 minutes, with most questions about my background education and my familiarity with childcare settings. I was offered the internship right after the interview!
The Environmental Health program at Snohomish Health District consists of three main divisions: food safety, land use, and environmental safety. The childcare outreach program has their own team but is under the supervision of environmental safety division and is also closely related to food safety. This is a government organization; I can see how a lot of WACs codes and state environmental/public health policies are applied in practical applications.
On my first day of as an intern, I was introduced to all the employees at the Health District. The majority of employees here are UW alumni who graduated with Environmental Health Degrees. One of my most favorite part of my internship is that I get to travel a lot of places and observe how EH specialists interact with people and handle tough situations. I can observe EH specialists step by step as they do their inspections and communicate with operators to establish trust and share information. They told me their goal is trying to educate people about safety and give operators different options to correct their violations. They also give me thorough explanations for each activity. Everyone is very friendly to me, and through their shared experience, I can see their passion for environmental health and helping people. I am excited to see how knowledge about environmental health is applied into practice!
Getting Ready for My Internship
By Jamila F.
This summer, my internship is at the Snohomish Health District in Everett, Washington. A majority of my internship will be spent with the Food Safety Program, but I will also be cross-training with other Snohomish Health District programs (Safe Environment, Tuberculosis Control, Maternal Child Health, Land Use, and more). This was the 10th internship I applied to, and I am excited to start!
My internship project with the Food Safety Program will revolve around non-continuous cooking, which is a cooking process for raw animal meat. In this process, the meat is intentionally stopped within 60 minutes of initial heating and then is cooled and held for complete cooking at a later time (usually before sale or service. Since the Washington State Food Code requires food establishments to have a written procedure of all food preparation processes that utilize non-continuous cooking, I will assist the Food Safety Program with the new tool they developed for foodservice establishments that guides these facilities in creating a written procedure for proper cold-holding and re-cooking of raw animal meat.
Jamila in her cubicle at Snohomish Health District.
I am most excited about training with the other Environmental Health Specialists and exploring different parts of Snohomish County, especially in my hometown: Marysville. In addition, I look forward to cross-training with the programs outside of the Environmental Health Division. On the other hand, I am a little nervous about being on the field to conduct food inspections for temporary food events (as opposed to observing inspections) and being on my own when I assist facilities in writing their non-continuous cooking procedure. However, I have shadowed one of the Environmental Health Specialists prior to this internship for an assignment for my Food Protection class. I am sure that training with the other Environmental Health Specialists will help me be more comfortable with the inspection process and educating food operators on food safety.
An Informational Interview with a Food Safety Specialist
By Hien N.
Layne is an Environmental Health Specialist in the Food Safety program at Snohomish Health District. She has been with Snohomish Health District for over 30 years! She is a well-respected employee with a vast degree of knowledge in environmental health. The most enjoyable aspect of her job at this time is training others and conducting policy work for the food program. She was an inspector for many years but now she does mostly education and training for the other health inspectors. Her least favorite part of her job is there isn’t enough time to get everything done that needs to be done. She believes that there is always something that can be done to improve public health.
Layne attended Western Washington University and studied environmental science and microbiology with an emphasis on fresh-water ecosystems. Right after graduating from Western, she acquired a job with Lewis County as a microbiologist, and then later moved to Snohomish Health District. She initially worked in the solid and hazardous waste program which also included conducting pool inspections. After about a year, she moved to the Food Program and there is where she developed her expertise in “all things food”.
She explained that as a health inspector in the Food Program, you may end up working varied work hours. This, however, can work in your favor. You are able to flex your hours to meet the needs of the Health District, but also to meet your personal needs (if necessary).
Being one of the first women to work in Environmental Health Program at the Snohomish Health District, Layne worked with the Environmental Health Director and the Human Resource Director to create a policy that extended allowable maternal leave. She was able to utilize this new policy as were other future working mothers. When returning to work after her maternal leave, she was also able to create the first part-time environmental health specialist position. Several other employees also made use of the new limited availability of part-time positions. These were not just working mothers; formerly retired persons also came back to work on a part-time basis.
Layne is a wonderful person with great intentions for public health safety. Snohomish Health District is lucky to have someone like her regulating over Snohomish County!