Throughout my time as a Community and Preventive Care Services intern at Gundersen, I have had the opportunity to work and be involved in several different groups and projects. The internship provided me with professional hands-on experience in health promotion programming not only for the employees of Gundersen but the patients and surrounding community. The program planning, design and implementation are based on needs assessments which I had the experience of helping create. One of the major needs assessments created during my time at the internship was a cancer needs assessment. The internship also provides the opportunity to do evaluation and data analysis, involvement in research projects or pilots on topics including but not limited to nicotine cessation, physical activity, stress management, healthy aging, alcohol and other drug abuse prevention, worksite wellness, and community integration projects. Throughout my time I was exposed to several different aspects of public health. The department ranges in the areas we cover, each person in the department with a different focus area. There are worksite screenings which involve doing a blood panel, blood pressure, height, weight and BMI. After this information is collected you consult with the patient about their numbers and work towards a plan to improve their numbers for next year’s screening. With these screenings we collect data and are able to write reports and health implementation plans for the worksites that request them. They tailor the internship to your interests and allow you to participate in as much as you wish too. I was given the unique opportunity to teach health lessons over the course of my internship to interns with mental disabilities at Gundersen which was an amazing experience. I was also a part of several community coalitions such as the falls prevention coalition, dementia coalition, and safe kid’s coalition. I was heavily involved in the nicotine cessation programming taking place here at Gundersen and actually given the opportunity to present on nicotine cessation to new incoming employees to make them aware of how to approach the topic and what they offer at Gundersen for them. There were several other opportunities I was given and exposed to which was what was so great about this internship. I had such freedom to explore different topics or aspects of the health field and participate in them. It’s great also if there is a specific interest in something because they will tailor your internship to that interest as best as they can.
My greatest accomplishment from this experience would have to be working with the Dementia Coalition of Monroe County and having the opportunity to bring a caregiver resilience program to their community. It was a project I was very passionate about as dementia is a disease that is very close to my heart and of great interest to me. I was able to connect with various leaders around Monroe County and emphasize the importance of programs like this one and interact directly with those that would be benefiting from the program. This was a big project that can have a huge impact and one that I was glad to be given the chance to work on and implement in their community. It also was a unique opportunity for me to work on program planning and implementation which is something we learn about but being able to actually be in the process and go through it was a great experience.
What advice would you give?
My advice for future students would be to find an internship that is going to challenge you to go outside of your comfort zone and make an impact. I would also say to try and get involved in different community coalitions as a student because they do find our voice needed to speak for the younger adults in the communities and how they can tie in students to the programs to help. Something else would be to put your passion to work, take what you love and make something great out of it. Finally, don’t wait to get an internship; having more than one experience in the field is extremely useful. You get to see how different agencies run programs and have the chance to see the different sides of how things are run.