Last Day at the Alzheimer’s Association

Flowers at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Today is my last day at the Alzheimer’s Association. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and I feel that I’ve learned a lot, both about non-profits and about Alzheimer’s work. As a final reflection, here are a few of the biggest things I’ve learned:

  1. How to gain entry into and the trust of a population in outreach.

In order to gain access to and the trust of a population, there is often one key person acting as a “gatekeeper.” In this case, it was my boss. All of the contacts I made for interviews for my thesis were through her, as she is an established figure in the Hispanic/Latino community in Boston. She has made the effort to reach out and establish trusting relationships with different churches, organizations, and individuals throughout the community. What I learned from this is that outreach, education, and fundraising work best when individual, meaningful relationships are formed.

2. The impact of my thesis interviews was not just for me.

When I was out in the field, interviewing and talking to people, they always seemed very appreciative that a young person was interested in Alzheimer’s disease. When planning my thesis and designing my interviews., I had mainly thought about the impact the interviews would have on my project, but they also seemed to have a positive impact on my interviewees. They were happy to know that young people were invested in them, and they had a chance to tell their stories. It’s easy to forget that we shouldn’t just offer up information, but also let people respond and create a dialogue; the most effective care is usually a result of good communication between the care provider and patient.

Some more information about the Memory Café, one of the programs that I have worked with.

3. Seemingly insignificant tasks can have a big impact.

During my time here at the Alzheimer’s Association, I did a lot of “typical” intern jobs – copying, making packets, organizing drawers. One day, I spent a couple of hours organizing my boss’s file folders for her. Although it wasn’t too difficult and didn’t seem like a big job to me, she really appreciated it and it ended up streamlining her process when organizing for health fairs. I think it is easy for interns to get frustrated with this type of job, but it is important to remember that these little things that we do allow others to more easily complete bigger and more crucial tasks.

I am sad to leave the organization today, but luckily it is just a 10 minute drive from Brandeis, so I will hopefully be back to volunteer a couple of times during the semester!

Also, a quick reminder to sign up for your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s! The link is to the Greater Boston walk. Brandeis SEAD will have a team for the Greater Boston Walk on September 25th, so look out for that on campus!

Sign up for your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Leah Levine ’17

 

ERG: Midpoint

By now I’ve grown comfortable in my adopted corner office with the four pet plants and the picturesque views. After interning at Eastern Research Group for more than a month, I feel more integrated with the work and the people. Since the previous blog post, I’ve helped conduct social science research, built spreadsheets and continued to shadow environmental consulting work. I’ve become more adjusted to the work schedule and grown better about inter-office communication.

I think that, after being in school for so long, it’s easy to forget about the non-stop nature of the world outside the “bubble”. That’s why I believe doing internships is so important; not only is it about gaining insight into the world of work, but it’s about recognizing and preparing for other aspects of the world as well.

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Monthly meeting in Boston – a presentation on renewable energy options

Recently, while at ERG, it occurred to me just how “abnormal” and condensed the academic year is. Since I’ve lived by the academic year for the past 15 years, it’s not easy to imagine what a full calendar year of work really entails mentally and physically, but it’s something I will learn to adjust to when the time comes.

Another comparison I would make is: academic work is more structured and comes in cyclical waves, but being at ERG has shown me that, often times, work can happen on a less predictable and rigid schedule. I’ve seen how work doesn’t necessarily stop after completing a project or leaving the office for the day.

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Notes and visitor cards from the monthly meeting

 

At ERG, I’m learning to become a better communicator. I’m learning to think deeper about the purpose behind my tasks and to not be shy about asking questions and contributing ideas. As a student, I’m admittedly more accustomed to independent projects and assignments, but at ERG I am adjusting my mindset to be more teamwork-oriented.  It feels good to know that my work here ultimately contributes to larger projects and therefore impacts my colleagues and the company. While the pressure is greater, I enjoy not having to worry about achieving a certain letter grade, but rather something that feels more significant and meaningful.

I am also realizing both the limitations of academic applications in the world of work as well as the intersections of skills and knowledge between the world of work and school. For example, it felt rewarding to use my research paper reading experiences from Political Psychology class to conduct social science research for ERG, just as it did when I could understand some of the data I’m working with thanks to a foundation of knowledge built in my Conservation Biology class.

Interning here confirms there are many aspects to the world of work missing from the familiar grind of academic life, and that there are many aspects to environmental consulting that one can only learn or learn best from the job itself. My observations and experiences at ERG have reinforced to me why interning is so critical, and why the WOW program is so valuable to us. As I begin my senior year next month (eep!), I am confident that what I’ve learned here will inform and ease my transition from my work-hard-play-hard student life to my independent, professional life.

Dora Chi, ’16

Bridging my experience at Project Healthcare with my career path

 

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Project Healthcare volunteers bid farewell to Bellevue Hospital Center

As a project healthcare (PHC) volunteer, about 90 percent of my time was spent in the Emergency Department (ED), which consists of the Adult Emergency Services, the Pediatric Emergency Services, Psychiatric Emergency Services, Urgent Care, and the Emergency Ward or the Trauma ICU. In the ED, my responsibilities included, but were not limited to, doing EKGs, making stretchers, transporting patients, and being a patient advocate, which included making phone calls on behalf of patients and monitoring length of patient stay. I also had the incredible opportunity to observe surgeries in the OR and shadow doctors with various specialties. With the endless opportunities to learn and an unparallel experience for someone who wants to go into the medical field, I not only reached the goals I set for myself at the inception of PHC, but also surpass those goals and grow in ways that I couldn’t have possibly imagined.

In shadowing doctors ranging from neurologists, gynecologists, surgeons, internists, and many more, I achieved my career goal of learning the ins and outs of daily hospital operations and the day-to-day life of being a doctor. In observing procedures including lumbar punctures, sutures, a craniotomy, etc, I achieved my academic goal of paralleling my experience with courses I’ve taken or will take at Brandeis. Learning about the anatomy of the human body or the physiological ways in which parts of the body function is one thing, but actually witnessing doctors using this knowledge to save lives is something completely different.

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I and other PHC interns in front of the historic Bellevue Hospital gates

When I set my final goal, my personal goal, at the beginning of the program, I couldn’t have predicted how far I’d transcend that goal by simply being in the ED and interacting with patients. My personal goal was to improve my day-to-day interactions with people regardless of their mental health or medical status. With Bellevue’s diverse patient population ranging from homeless people and prisoners to people from all socio-economic backgrounds, I learned to become effective in communicating mainly by being attentive and learning how to listen without being dismissive of people’s ideas, thoughts and feelings. In retrospect, when I think about how, towards the end of PHC, I could simply walk into the ED and deduce from a look on a patient’s face, what his or her pain and/or comfort level was and help them get a nurse’s attention, I now know that I helped to make patients’ experience in the ED more pleasant.

My next steps, after PHC, are to continue to build on the skills I’ve developed and continue to stay on the path to becoming a physician. At Brandeis University, I will continue to take classes that will not only fulfill the pre-med requirements I need to complete before applying to medical school, but also give me more of an in-depth explanation and a comprehensive understanding of some of the procedures I was fortunate to observe over the summer. The human body is fascinating machinery and I still have a lot to learn about how that machine operates. I will also look for and take advantages of opportunities to gain more clinical experience in a hospital setting. To anyone who is interested in interning with Project Healthcare or anyone who wants to pursue a career in medicine, my advice is to seize every opportunity to learn, and remember that no question is a stupid question. Physicians aren’t the only people you can learn from; talk to nurses, physician assistants, patient care technicians, and anyone who is willing to teach you. You will get out of your internship almost as much as you put into it, so work hard, even when no one is looking, and take advantage of opportunities to network and gain advice from people in your field of interest.

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One of my final moments with other PHC interns at Bellevue Hospital.

Project Healthcare Volunteers Host a Health Fair at Bellevue

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Project Healthcare volunteers host a health fair at Bellevue Hospital Center

It is inevitable that without a medical degree, anyone in a hospital will come across terminology they may not understand or see a fascinating case but lack the proper terms to describe the case. Prior to the inception of Project Healthcare (PHC), my goal was to draw parallels between my experiences in the emergency department with courses I’ve taken or will take at Brandeis and become more familiar with medical terminology as well as some of the more common cases seen in the ED.

As we approach the end of the summer, I’m noticing that I have an easier time in the emergency department every shift. I have been keeping track of achieving my goals by always making sure that I have a pen and a paper readily available to take notes on cases and terms I come across. In addition to making sure to ask the doctors, I also do further research on the different diagnoses at home and make sure I have comprehensive understanding.

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Presenting at the health fair at Bellevue Hospital Center

I am most proud of my recent participation in a health fair held in the lobby of Bellevue Hospital. In groups of 2 or 3, the PHC volunteers were given a health topic to present at the fair. We were responsible for contacting organizations and requesting materials to handout at the health fair, creating an interactive activity as well as completing a multimedia project based on our health topic. My group’s topic was Breast/Cervical Cancer

On the day of the health fair, which was held on July 8th 2014, many people ranging from cancer survivors, staff members from the oncology department at Bellevue, people diagnosed with human papillomavirus (or HPV, which has been shown to cause cervical cancer in women), and uninsured patients with health concerns stopped my group’s table. We provided people with information about the risk factors for breast and cervical cancer, the various tests and vaccinations available to reduce risks (i.e. Pap Smear, Gardasil, Mammograms, etc), and information on where people could go to get free screenings as well cancer services in NYC regardless of insurance status.

As a result of my involvement with Project Healthcare thus far, I have built on and improved my public speaking, organization and collaboration skills. These are skills that I’ve had a chance to put into practice through talking to patients in the emergency department, working with my group to prepare for the health fair, participating in clinical and public health research as well as interacting with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. As I continue on my journey towards becoming a doctor, I will need to speak publically at conferences, organize well to balance my academics with my personal life, and collaborate with my colleagues in research and in patient care, thus I will continue to develop and implement these skills that I am gaining through Project Healthcare.

From left, Maria, Yoon Jon, and Me at the Health fair
(From left) Maria, Yoon Jon, and Me presenting on Breast/Cervical Cancer at the Bellevue health fair

Ama Darkwa, ’16

 

Completion of Social Justice Work!

 

I am happy to report that during this internship I have completed one major directory project as well as a few smaller projects for CBHI that I can attach my name to. It is exciting to send off a major document, created by me, that will be used to better CBHI and the UMass Training Program services. A goal of mine was to produce high quality work that would make a difference in people’s lives and I can proudly say that I have accomplished this! Another goal I had for this summer was to network. Over the past 9 weeks I have collaborated with people who have backgrounds and experience in psychology, the juvenile courts system, the legislative branch, the executive branch, legal work as a judge, legal work as an attorney, and a student at Harvard Law. Meeting all of these working professionals and learning their opinions and past experiences has been an invaluable resource for me. I have learned the many different ways that people can work towards achieving their desired careers.

Click here to see some monthly CARD (Children Awaiting Resolution and Disposition) reports that I helped create.

Here are the Newsletter Archives. The Summer 2013 edition that I helped write and edit will soon be included on this list.

This internship has inspired me to try to gain exposure to more internship opportunities. CBHI gave me a glimpse into the behind the scenes business and government aspects of public health. It would be very helpful if I could find a future internship where I can work more on the front end of the public health field. This would allow me to better understand all levels of the system so I can make a more informed decision about what type of work I would be interested in doing. This internship has also convinced me that I would like to take Professor Altman’s class “American Health Care”. Having a more in depth understanding of the health care system direct from one of the nation’s leading experts would be extremely informative. A colleague of mine also talked to me about many ways to volunteer in the community. One particular volunteer project she introduced me to is CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). This sounds like an interesting way to get involved with children in the court system which is another strong interest of mine.

I strongly advise all students to complete an internship. Internships support students to develop their interests and gain real world experience, but they are also really good for networking. As an intern at CBHI it is very important to ask a lot of questions. CBHI is a very small organization at the cross-section of many larger organizations, so at first it can be difficult to grasp exactly what it is that CBHI does. By asking questions interns can learn more, develop relationships with co-workers, and show their interest. As for any internship, interns should always be eager to ask for additional work to do. By keeping an open line of communication with your supervisor on how you are progressing on given tasks,  your supervisor can learn your strengths and assign additional tasks. Students who intern in the field of public health should know that this is a huge field with many job applications. If you do not love the work at your particular internship, there is a strong chance that another position exists with the type of work you are interested in. Above all, don’t forget to network!

CBHI exists so that kids with behavioral/mental health issues receive proper mental health evaluations and treatment plans. This mission for social justice is something that people generally agree is necessary. This internship has taught me that the execution of social justice is much more complicated than the general agreement that these kids deserve the right services. Every stakeholder involved in providing children with better behavioral/mental health services has a different opinion on how this mission should be carried out. The stakeholders involved in this particular example of social justice are the court plaintiffs, court defendants, clinical managers, clinicians, CBHI workers, the government, caregivers, and most importantly the children. With so many different perspectives to balance, it can be challenging to meet the needs of all the parties involved. This can make social justice action frustrating; however, this internship has taught me that change does come slowly. I have learned the value of gaining input from those being impacted. CBHI does a lot of outreach work and progress reports to evaluate how they can provide even better services. These types of projects that CBHI completes has taught me that in order to be a better worker it is important to gain input from others and ask for help when needed.

ElizbethChaflin ’15

Diak ka lae?

Diak ka lae is used in Tetun, the local language of East Timor, for “How are you?” The literal translation is “Good or bad?” In response, people usually reply “diak”, meaning good, or “lae”, meaning bad. Diak ka lae is one of the many Tetun phrases and words I have learned here in my time in Dili. Although I am far from being fluent, I know enough phrases to understand some of the patients and to get a basic patient history. As I go on rounds with the doctors and follow up with the patients, I am getting more comfortable in a health care setting. Most importantly, I am also getting comfortable interacting with the patients. Being familiar with the language is one big step in communicating and interacting with patients and their families at the clinic.

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Bairo Pite Clinic sign outside clinic gates

After spending over a month at the Bairo Pite Clinic, I am definitely seeing how a health clinic in a developing country like East Timor operates. I work almost daily with the staff and volunteers in providing health care for its patients. I observe and interact with a variety of staff members vital in running the clinic. However, the BPC is steady changing as health care in East Timor progresses. As I am working, I am witnessing the failures of the system and the improvements being made. I believe this knowledge I am gaining is important in becoming better informed as a future primary care physician.

 

Since I have started working at the clinic, I have been exposed to many medical procedures used to diagnose and evaluate patients. As I am picking up the language here, I am also becoming familiar with the medical techniques and tools being used during these examinations. I am able to understand why these techniques are being used when a doctor uses them and I am able to provide these tools when a doctor needs them. These skills would be useful in the future for work in a health care setting and for facilitating patient care.

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Me and other volunteers with our N95 masks (masks that protect us from TB) on

I am most proud of everything that I have learned so far at the BPC and the fact that I am able to make myself useful around the clinic despite my lack of knowledge. Most of the volunteers at the BPC are medical students with some medical experience. In the beginning, I was worried that I would not be able to get the learning experience I need or be able help out. However, the doctors and medical students have been very willing to explain and teach me if I had questions. This in return helped me understand what was going on and be able to help them and by extension, help the patients.

 

Alice Luu ’14

 

Many volunteers from all over the world hanging out in the administration office
Many volunteers from all over the world hanging out in the administration office