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Interns at Work

Yashna Naidu '15 Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers Camden, N.J.

"I returned with a strong resolve to help reach the medically underserved and a much clearer vision of the quality of patient care I hope to provide one day as a physician."

How did you learn about this internship?

As soon as I kicked off my summer internship search, I sat down with my advisor, Professor Dickovick, and brainstormed for potential opportunities. Given my interests in public health and service, he immediately suggested that I touch base with Professor Pickett and the Shepherd Poverty Program. Turns out it was a perfect match--I ended up interning and even becoming a minor!

What gave you the edge in landing this internship?

First and foremost, my time as a student medical volunteer with the Rockbridge Area Health Center and prior experience with clinical Spanish were both very helpful in gaining this position. In addition, throughout my time at W&L, I found myself naturally gravitating toward courses and lecture series that wrestled with issues of social and economic justice, the social determinants of health and community development. When it came time to pin down the right internship, I knew that I wanted to be a part of an organization that would tackle each of these areas. Once the Camden Coalition popped up on my radar, I could tell almost immediately that it would be a great fit.

Describe your daily duties.

While working in the field, I rotated through visits of each of the thirteen practices, hospitals and clinics in the area and engaged those in the waiting room with a patient satisfaction survey in order to help Camden residents gain a stronger voice and better advocate for themselves. In addition, I also assisted in the facilitation of diabetes self-management education classes for the community in English and Spanish. During my time in the office, I worked with the Clinical Redesign team, composing a variety of white papers and press releases on Medicaid ACOs, community projects and the healthcare system in Camden.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

I loved being able to see so many different levels of a city's healthcare delivery system, from the Camden's citywide health information exchange to community health education classes and comprehensive care coordination on the ground.

How did you like living in the city where the internship was located?

While I worked in Camden, I lived across the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, Pa., on UPenn's campus. At first, I was definitely a little nervous about moving into the middle of such a big, new city, but I grew to absolutely love it in no time. It is such a vibrant and beautiful city full of young people, fantastic food and no shortage of cool history and culture.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

From my time with the Coalition, I gained a much greater understanding of the complexities of care coordination from the bedside to the home and of the planning behind community health programs. I also returned with a strong resolve to help reach the medically underserved and a much clearer vision of the quality of patient care I hope to provide one day as a physician. I've learned how to think quickly on my feet and adapt to new and unfamiliar settings, while improving my health coaching skills and clinical Spanish.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

Especially within the Shepherd Program, it's all about finding an organization that shares common values and goals with you. Explore your biggest interests and passions and pinpoint organizations that help you translate them into action. Most importantly, don't be afraid to jump right into new territory! Some of your greatest lessons learned and best experiences may very well come from being immersed in a whole new environment.

Will you pursue a career in this field after graduation?

Currently, I plan on going on to medical school after graduation and either go into practice or work with a non-profit in public health. I am so thankful to have learned and been trained in such a hands-on environment this summer and plan on drawing from these experiences wherever my career takes me.

Describe your experience in a single word.

Empowering.

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When W&L students and alumni describe what makes Washington and Lee special, they invariably talk about the community. Our beloved Speaking Tradition creates an open, friendly atmosphere on campus, while our commitment to inclusion means that students can get involved on campus from day one. Students have access to a world of academic, athletic and extracurricular activities no matter what their major--and a strong support system composed of both students and faculty to help them succeed in whatever they choose to do.

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Service learning is also an important component of many of our academic programs. Students in the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability combine academic study with co-curricular work and rigorous internships to learn about issues related to poverty. Students with a variety of majors volunteer in the local public schools and participate in service-minded co-curricular programs, including Washington and Lee Student Consulting and the General Development Initiative.

At an institutional level, Washington and Lee is committed to the local community through an ongoing grants program that provides financial assistance to worthwhile projects and organizations.

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246,339 meals served to food-insecure families and individuals by the Campus Kitchen at W&L to date.
64,079 hours of community service logged by W&L students last year.
W&L has awarded local nonprofit organizations $332,542 through its Community Grants Program since 2008.
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95% of the student body is involved in the nationally renowned quadrennial Mock Convention.

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