This summer I participated in an internship called Exploring Health Careers (EHC) at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. While in high school, I participated in another program offered by the Office of Minorities from the Downstate Medical Center. The network that I established during my time in high school led me to find out about and participate in this new program offered over the summer.
The EHC program is basically for college students who are considered minorities and have less resources and opportunities available. Since I am pursuing a career in the medical field, participating in the EHC program was very beneficial for me. Through this program I learned about different occupational tracks in medicine, such as Graduate Studies, the Allied Health Profession and Medical Education. Exposure to these different possibilities helped me to decide on what’s best for my future. While I was learning about the Graduate Studies track, I met students who were conducting research on lipids and neurodynamics. I met students who came from different parts of the world to learn and succeed at this Medical Center. The research studies that the graduate students were conducting ranged from learning about neurotransmitters inside of a rat’s brain to creating a robotic arm. I also learned about the Allied Health Profession that is available for those who want a career in medicine but do not want to be a doctor or a nurse. The Allied Health Profession includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition, and radiology, among others.
I also had the opportunity to shadow doctors in the fields of cardiology, emergency medicine and nephrology. When I was in the nephrology department, I met a patient who just had her kidney transplanted. I had a chance to talk with her, asked her questions regarding her health and even took care of her for a few hours. By shadowing physicians I learned about the daily tasks of a doctor and their methods of communicating with their patients. I was also exposed to each physician’s personal view on his or her career.
This internship not only taught me about medicine, it also taught me about the skills required for successful group dynamics. I had to work with four other students that I did not know on a presentation. We were given the question: What is the role of community involvement in accessing healthcare needs? Our task was to research the answer to this question and prepare an hour-long presentation for the entire class. While working on this project, I learned how to depend on people that I did not know and learned how to be responsible to the group as a whole. I improved my public speaking skills as well my methods of research.
Cultural competency was also vital to working well together as a group. During the internship, we were given lectures on cultural competency twice a week, every week. In cultural competency lectures, I learned how important it is to be open minded to people that are from different cultures. I also learned that although culture can create a barrier between a physician and a patient, it is very important to overcome the barrier in order to provide the best service possible with the clearest communication possible. Being culturally competent is not only useful in the medical field, but in all of life’s interactions.