337. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, Los Angeles, CA

Please Note: This internship is co-sponsored with The Center for Public Service & Engaged Scholarship’s Mindich Summer Service Fellowship. The primary affiliation is with HGHI, so HGHI will be the point of contact during the application and internship onboarding process. The intern selected for this internship will have the obligations and benefits of an intern in both HGHI and The Center for Public Service & Engaged Scholarship.

The Division of Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) leads and facilitates the delivery of a full spectrum of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services proven to reduce the impact of substance use, abuse, and addiction in Los Angeles County. Services are provided through contracts with over 150 community-based organizations, to County residents, particularly the un- and/or underinsured. SAPC staff serve as technical experts and consultants to meet the needs of the public and contracted organizations in the field of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and abuse.

This internship is housed in the Policy and Strategic Initiatives (PSI) Unit of SAPC. The PSI Unit is responsible for guiding the future direction of SUD treatment and recovery services, fostering efforts that enable providers and staff to shift the organizational culture, and effectively respond to changing regulatory, legislative and community conditions. The PSI Unit collaborates with community stakeholders, network providers, County departments, and health plan partners to design and sustain an accessible and effective system of care, with a focus towards implementing the Drug Medi-Cal Waiver.



Summer Project

SAPC is implementing the Drug Medi-Cal (Medicaid) Waiver in Los Angeles County. As such, the Policy and Strategic Initiatives Unit has multiple projects that are available to an intern that combine a portfolio of areas such as policy, research, and planning. These projects will be developed jointly by the Supervisor and the intern and deliverables and timelines and will be agreed upon prior to initiation of the work.

The intern may:

  •  Contribute to the development of reports for use in program planning and development efforts, including reviewing and analyzing protocols and procedures from other jurisdictions, pending or enacted legislation, state and federal regulations, and grant funding opportunities.
  • Assess internal and external operations to implement strategies that streamline and clarify responsibilities and practices, promote innovation, improve cost effectiveness while maintaining quality and access to care standards, and mitigating financial exposure and risk.
  • Monitor and manage efforts that enable the organization and network providers to adjust to changing conditions such as new legislation, regulations, priorities, funding opportunities and best practices for service delivery; and prepare materials to ensure compliance and facilitate improved operation, organization, and delivery of care.
  • Collaborate with community stakeholders, network providers, County departments, and health plan partners to design and sustain an accessible and effective system of care.
  • Initiate development of strategic initiatives that support individual- and community-level health and facilitate the transition of such projects to other parts of the organization for on-going maintenance.
  • Conduct project management efforts that facilitate the organization's transition to a specialty health plan to thrive under the new managed care service model.


The intern will initiate and develop original written content as related to agreed deliverables discussed with Supervisor and present to Executive Team of SAPC and other leadership when possible. Intern will attend and participate in staff meetings as well as organizational meetings when relevant to work. It is envisioned that the Supervisor and intern will have frequent check-ins and the intern will be able to and afforded time to attend staff meetings.


The candidate should possess a strong health policy, research, and analytical skills. They should also desire to work in an environment that exposes them to learning about the public sector, substance use and the spectrum of substance use treatment, the safety net, and public funding streams. The PSI Unite is a small, but motivated team of self-starters. The potential intern will have autonomy to shape their work and contribute fresh ideas. This is a unique opportunity to shape the landscape of healthcare implementation in Los Angeles.

Work Environment

Other divisions or branches within SAPC may host student workers or interns during the same period, however, the PSI Unit will solely host one intern. As a remote internship opportunity, the intern will be provided with County email, badge, and network access.


On a scale of 0 to 5, the level of internship supervision from very little (0) to a great deal (5) will be a 3.5.

Special Instructions

In your personal statement, please include responses to the following questions. What interests you about public-sector work? What aspects of population health and systems design are you motivated by?

Quotes from Previous Fellows

"Working in the LA County Department of Public Health's Substance Abuse Prevention and Control Division has broadened my perspective on healthcare and substance abuse disorder (SUD) treatment in America. The Strategic Planning and Development (SPD) unit is in the third year of implementing the Drug Medi-Cal (Medicaid) Waiver in Los Angeles County. Through policy analysis, I assessed the potential impact that certain legislation at the local, state, and federal levels could have on substance use disorder (SUD) treatment initiatives and their funding. I have also tracked, compiled, and analyzed the recent progress of establishing supervised/safe injection sites in major cities across the country in addition to the federal government's responses to said progress. My supervisors have been immensely supportive, providing me with various opportunities to deepen my understanding of public health and the medical landscape." Kevin Lin, Summer 2020

"SAPC is in the second year of implementing the section 1115 waiver which allows for the expansion of publicly funded substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. As an intern with the Strategic Planning and Development (SPD) unit at SAPC, I had a great deal of freedom in pursuing projects that interested me. I analyzed federal and state legislative bills that had the potential to impact our constituents and provided recommendations for bill endorsement or opposition. I developed an opinion piece on SUD and stigma that will be featured on SAPC's website. My colleagues were incredibly friendly and welcoming, and they allowed me to ask questions and give input to the projects that they were working on." Arambi Eyong, Summer 2019

“I am working with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health's Substance Abuse Prevention and Control to expand addiction treatment services to the 10.2 million citizens of Los Angeles County. My team especially focuses on increasing access to underserved and vulnerable populations through the new Drug Medi-Cal fee waiver program. This summer, my main project is designing a new plan to increase substance use disorder treatment to youth involved in the juvenile justice system. This project provides an opportunity to be innovative in advancing an ethics of care in the youth justice system.” Julie Chung, Summer 2018

Click here for instructions on how to apply for this internship.