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- Tuesday, December 01, 2015

AHECSW's High School Health Internship Program (HSHIP) is heading into its fourth year. This program focuses on giving students that are invested in pursuing a healthcare career an immersive experience in the healthcare environment as well as an opportunity to form relationships with local healthcare professionals. Students in this program have the opportunity to spend between 35-70 hours participating in clinical observations to gain a more in depth understanding of the inner workings of these facilities, patient interaction, and why staff have chosen to dedicate themselves to this pathway.This Fall our students had the opportunity to discuss their unique experiences and they were given the option to provide a blog, video, or utilize other media formats to discuss the impact that their sites had on them. 

Emma Myers, a junior at Douglas High School who aspires to become a physician or plans to pursue a career in medical research, spent her fall term with Dr. Thomas Leech's office and the Weston Eye Center with Dr. Jon-Marc Weston and Dr. Greg Valle. Emma felt that something she gained from her first term with these offices was an increased understanding of patient interactions. Emma shared that before this experience she was a little uncomfortable with the idea of interacting with patients, but through this experience she had gained confidence in her abilities. Through this experience she not only had the opportunity to view eye exams, but she was also able to learn more about different procedures and eye health. Emma discusses her observations of patient appointments in Dr. Leech's office in the following video.   

Understanding what it takes to be a quality provider seemed to continue to be a theme throughout the term. Abby Lyons, a senior at Yoncalla High School interested in nursing and dental assisting, was impressed with dedication she observed at Dr. Randol's office. Abby learned that you really have to understand each individual patient to understand the kind of care that will work best for them. She shared this reflection on the patient care she observed: 

"Dr. Randol's office has shown amazing patient care. There was never just one moment where I was like, “Wow look at how well they treat the patients!” Instead, it was a constant thing that I saw. The assistants and hygienists were always kind and happy to see the patients. They would ask them how their day was going and they were genuine with their questions. The assistants and hygienists really did want to help the patients get better, they weren't at work just for a pay check. Dr. Randol did his best to make the patients time there as enjoyable as possible.He was always upbeat and happy. He would explain to the patients what he was doing and why.

I learned that patient care isn't just making sure that the patient has good care, but it is also about making the patient comfortable, gaining a relationship with them and helping them have an enjoyable time. The assistants and hygienists do their best to remember each patient and what they like. Some patients like to talk a lot, others like silence. The assistants and hygienists are responsible for feeling this out and finding what each patient likes so that the patient has a good time there. Everyone was so focused on making the patient happy and working with them to get the patients the care they needed."

Stella Moon, a senior at Roseburg High School interested in becoming a physician, spent some time observing physical and occupational therapists at Mercy Medical Center's AIM Therapies (formerly known as Mercy Institute of Rehabilitation). One thing Stella noted about being in this field was that you had a continued relationship with your patient because they usually had to come in for multiple session and that quality patient care is crucial when you are working with these types of therapies. Below are Stella's reflections on her term with her site: 

"Each week I observed different therapists work with their patients, and I learned about uses of various machines, forms of manual therapy, and other exercise methods that the therapists followed. I also shadowed the office secretaries and helped organize files and papers, and I learned what the physical therapy technicians' jobs entailed. It was very interesting to learn all of these things because I had not known much about therapy before. But one especially striking part about my internship was the immense patient care that the healthcare professionals at my site provided.

Every therapist, office staff member, and technician greeted their patients with sincere warmth and care. During therapy sessions, the therapists visited with the patients, told and listened to stories, and laughed with patients. Although none of these things are required as a part of therapy, the therapists did them because they genuinely cared about their patients. They would see their patients a week later and remember their stories and ask about them. If a patient had mentioned seeing her son that weekend, the therapists would ask about it a week later. This was amazing to me because the therapists have so many different patients come in throughout the day and to give each patient individual care takes a lot of commitment. The office staff and technicians showed the same commitment and authentic care to patients. They visited with every patient who came through and accommodated each of them for their separate needs.

My experience seeing the excellent patient care at the Mercy Institute of Rehabilitation was such an inspiration for my future career. No matter what I decide to do, I hope to be able to show just as much compassion and care as the staff I observed did."

Dylan Smith, a senior at Roseburg High School who hopes to become a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant one day, had the unique opportunity to form meaningful relationships with staff at the Shaw Heart Center at Mercy Medical Center. He discussed the impact that the staff had on his understanding of cardiology as well as technical terms and procedures. Dylan will never forget the mentors that inspired him.  

"Four specific hospital employees made the biggest impact in my internship; Sigourney Zallen, Crystal Clark, and Lindsay Wallenburn, who are all Radiology Technicians that work in cardiology, and Sarah Walton-Mahlberg, a Registered Nurse. Each of these professionals took the time to give me some hands-on learning experiences and made me feel valued because of the extra time they put aside to educate me. 

Sigourney taught me how the procedure tables get set up and even taught me how to open packages in a way to keep the object inside sterile and how to drop it onto the procedure table. Within a few weeks I had already learned how most procedure tables get set up and I even got to assist in setting up the procedure table a couple times and also getting various supplies needed for the procedure. This was an amazing experience. Crystal Clark had saved an extra balloon catheter from a procedure for me to learn how to use and inflate with a saline solution and contrast inside, which was really interesting and a rare opportunity for a student like myself. Lindsay had made my whole internship in cardiology worthwhile because she spent every opportunity she could to educate me on any question or procedure I knew nothing on. It was really refreshing to me to have someone explaining everything they are doing while they are doing it. Sarah was also a great resource during my internship because she always made sure I had something to do and she was always there and excited to answer any question I had. Sarah has impacted my career pathway because most of my focus before this internship in Cardiology was in the physician side of medicine and never on anything such as nursing, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. After meeting her and hearing her personal opinions based off of her personal experiences, my mind was opened to many more sides of medicine than before."

These interactions with healthcare professionals will forever impact the journey that these four students take. The AHECSW staff continues to be impressed with the quality interactions that our students have at these sites and the quality care that they observe these providers giving in our community! We can't wait to hear about their experiences at their next site!

HSHIP Fall Term Sites 

AIM Therapies (Mercy Medical Center)

Dr. Alanson Randol, DDS

Dr. Thomas Leech, O.D.

Shaw Heart and Vascular Center (Mercy Medical Center)

Weston Eye Center 

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