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American Indian Health and Family Services

AIHFS is a non-profit health center serving the Native American community of Southeastern Michigan. The mission of American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan (AIHFS) is to enhance the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental well being of Native American families and other underserved populations in Southeast Michigan. We offer comprehensive, culturally integrated, quality health care in the areas of medical care, behavioral health care and health education. Our approach integrates traditional Native American healing and spiritual practices with contemporary western medicine in both treatment and prevention.

We understand that each intern is unique and is seeking different educational goals; therefore we work directly with the student to define internship learning objectives for the term. We have opportunities in many areas, including, but not limited to youth development and training, parent programs and advocacy, medical fields, public health, social work, business/organizational leadership and cultural education. The list below includes some possible options for your service. If you are interested in other areas, please know that we are flexible.

Internship Structure

The internship periods extends for the duration of the semester. All interns are expected to complete the minimum number of hours per week associated with the number of credit hours. Schedules may be set or flexible depending on both the learning objectives of the student and the needs of AIHFS. Each intern will have a supervision meeting with their direct supervisor, or designated AIHFS representative a minimum of every other week. Interns are expected to communicate regularly with their supervisor to solicit feedback and ensure successful progress towards learning goals and assignments.

Qualified applicants for AIHFS will have:

1. Agreement with and passion for the mission of AIHFS

2. Good interpersonal skills

3. Emotional and intellectual maturity

4. High energy level and openness to personal growth

5. Strong verbal and written skills.

6. Organizational skills, strong attention to detail, demonstrated proficient skills in

7. Demonstrated ability to interact positively in a culturally diverse environment.

Operations Opportunities

  • Assist in maintaining the daily functioning of the office such as answering phones, sorting mail and providing administrative support to staff
  • Provide assistance with a variety of periodical tasks, including donation processing, file organization, and compiling information
  • Data entry and research
  • Mailing list maintenance, computer software/technology and use of office equipment
  • Preparing and mailing receipt letters

Public Health/Medical Opportunities

  • Work as a team to work towards systems change to improve access to healthy food and physical activity
  • Work directly in a medical clinic setting alongside a team of medical professionals including physicians, nurse, medical assistants and others.
  • Assist with research and development of health education materials.
  • Provide health education to clients.
  • Participate in trainings and meetings to gain a greater understanding of clinic management
  • Work on special projects related to cancer, diabetes or other health topics.
  • Assist with outreach and client communications

Youth Development/Training Opportunities

  • Work closely with youth program team to plan, implement and evaluate after school programs.
  • Develop leadership and facilitation skills
  • Research best practices, health disparities etc to inform your service and AIHFS staff/community.
  • Serve as a mentor and role model for urban American Indian youth
  • Assist with preparation, set up and facilitation of group activities
  • Gain skills in substance abuse prevention, nutrition, physical activity, suicide prevention and Native American culture

Social Work Opportunities

  • Assist with group sessions-women’s circle, men’s circle, recovery support through planning, preparation and possible facilitation.
  • Participate in trainings and meetings related to case management, counseling and effective programs.
  • Assist with suicide prevention efforts-awareness, trainings, screenings, policy
  • Plan and implement community trainings related to self-empowerment and advocacy
  • Assist with grant writing, reporting, data entry and outreach

Media Outreach Opportunities

  • Work closely with the AIHFS staff and community to raise awareness of AIHFS programs and services and the Native community in southeast Michigan.
  • Promote positive health messages utilizing AIHFS email lists, newsletter, facebook, instagram and twitter.
  • Work with AIHFS programs to assist with various programs and events.
  • Create press releases and build positive media relations.
  • Assist with website to ensure timeliness, accuracy and consistency
  • Design, develop and maintain databases.
  • Create designs, concepts, and layouts for website, publications, advertisements and other printed and graphic materials.
  • Prepare comprehensive layouts of the design using techniques such as photography, illustration and computer-generated imagery
  • Assisting in collaboration and design of marketing tools

Other potential opportunities/positions

  • Gardening
  • Fundraising, funds development
  • Finance, grants management
  • Information Technology
  • Maternal/Child Programming and home visits
  • Engaging with community partners regarding initiatives in Metro Detroit, develop partnership agreements
  • Meeting with local and state elected officials to promote awareness of AIHFS and the Native American community
  • Helping promote civic engagement through nonpartisan voter engagement initiatives
  • Assisting in the planning and implementation of trainings, conferences, and special events, including creating promotional materials
  • Volunteer recruitment for special events and service projects
  • Business/organizational leadership
  • Policy development/organizational capacity building
  • And more! Visit AIHFS to get more information about programs and services.

Interested students should start by contacting Scott Lyons ( for information on setting up an interview with American Indian Health. Students may also line up a faculty advisor who is not the Director of Native American Studies, though the director must be consulted. These are unpaid internships.

For work during the Fall and Winter Terms, students can sign up for 3 credits (9 hours/week), or 4 credits (12 hours/week). During the spring or summer terms, the number of hours double per credit. Evaluation of performance will be based on a 5-7 page paper submitted to the faculty advisor by the student at the end of the semester and comments on the student’s performance submitted to the faculty advisor by the designated supervisor at American Indian Health. Students are encouraged to serve for 2 consecutive semesters if time permits. This opportunity is intended to provide students with the opportunity to explore career options related to Native American Studies, particularly in health, management/business, social and cultural issues.