World Health Organization (Co-Sponsored with the Harvard Global Health Institute)

Please Note: This internship is co-sponsored with the IOP, and therefore you should apply through the HGHI-IOP funding source in CARAT. The IOP has a strict two-application limit for opportunities they fund, which includes internships that are co-sponsored with HGHI.

In order to apply, you need to have completed three years of full-time studies (i.e. be a rising senior) and be at least twenty years old by March 1, 2019.

The World Health Organization directs international public health efforts within the United Nations’ system and lead partners in global health responses.

The Patient Safety and Risk Management unit aims to coordinate, disseminate and accelerate improvements in patient safety worldwide. It also provides a vehicle for international collaboration and action between WHO Member States, WHO’s Secretariat, technical experts, and consumers, as well as professionals and industry groups.

Each year, Patient Safety delivers a number of programmes covering systemic and technical aspects to improve patient safety around the world. The current WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm, focuses on improving medication safety.


Summer Project

Assist in preparations for World Health Assembly 2019, patient safety assessment tool


Briefing notes, conduct literature review, preparing presentations, assist in developing agenda and preparations for global consultations


  • Interest in public health/global health, health science background preferable
  • Comprehensive reader
  • Computer literate
  • Excellent written and verbal communication
  • Enthusiasm and initiative

Work Environment

International multicultural office environment, close-knit working unit. Other intern(s) in unit.


On a scale of 0 to 5, the level of internship supervision from very little (0) to a great deal (5) will be a 0-3. The level of supervision varies based on the level of independence and initiative expressed by the intern.


The Dates of this internship are usually about May 15 - August 18.

Additional Requirements

The recipient will need to complete an application through the WHO Stellis application system and most recipients will need a visa. 

Click here for instructions on how to apply.

2018 Intern Reflection:

Every day in unique at WHO. Whether you arrive in time for the World Health Assembly (held in the beginning of May each year), or you start afterwards, you will always be on your toes when it comes to the work you do here. I have had the amazing opportunity to meet so many high-level people, interact with other motivated interns and staff members, attend weekly educational seminars and high level meetings by experts, and so much more.

Be prepared to throw the terms of reference out the window, because you will be working only on what is considered "high priority" during your time at the internship (which is basically everything). I enjoyed the opportunity to work under a highly accomplished supervisor and assist in a variety of projects ranging from developing a Global Patient Safety Network to preparing for a high-level expert meeting to brainstorm and develop new proposals and tools to be used by organization and countries alike in the future. Having said that, you can feel a bit lost at times, because your tasks might be accomplished in a day, a week, or a month, and there's no telling how long or how intricate the process might be. That is part of the learning process, and an eye-opener for anyone who wants to learn more about how a large international organization accomplishes its tasks.

Danielle Etzel '19

2017 Intern Reflection:

This summer, I am working in the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Unit at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. I am working on a variety of different projects, ranging from the development of an international network of stakeholders in patient safety to facilitate global collaboration to compiling and collecting national policies from all Member States. My primary project is focusing on assessing the burden of unsafe health care globally and trying to support it with the most recent data through an extensive literature review.

Varun Varshney '19 


Geneva, Switzerland