My STEP Signature Project consisted of an internship with the Wexner Medical Center here in Columbus, Ohio. My title was Patient Scheduling Student Intern and I spent the vast majority of my time working with the transcription team within the Central Scheduling department. As a transcriptionist, my main duty was to receive outpatient referrals and send the information from the referrals to specific schedulers within the Wexner Medical Center using Epic software.
When I first began this internship I lacked a lot of confidence and because I wasn’t confident, I asked a lot of questions looking for validation from my coworkers. I also wasn’t expecting the training for this internship to be quite so exhaustive, but there was a lot to learn. I shadowed a full-time employee and was trained by the other student employees, but when I was finally sent out on my own I was completely lost. The first thing I learned in this experience was how to ask for help and the second, more transformational experience, was finding my own voice in the team.
As the weeks went on, I became much better at my work. I didn’t rely on my coworkers to guide me through everything I did and I became very good at handling calls with disgruntled patients and care coordinators (something that overwhelmed me during the first few weeks). I started to understand how important it is to separate my personal difficulties from my professional responsibilities. I knew that if I treated others with the same respect and empathy that I expected from them, I would approach other things in my life with the same patience and optimism. I didn’t initially see this internship as part of the service industry, but I was in a way providing a service to patients and I can now confidently say that I understand customer service and the importance of a healthy work environment from working at this internship.
The relationships I built with my coworkers significantly bettered my experience at this internship. Over the course of my summer, two student interns played a significant role in shaping the experience for me. Both were interns for about a year before I began working and they offered a lot of guidance. From them, I learned that it is more than okay for students to speak up in meetings and bring their ideas of ways to improve the work process to the discussion. They were bolder than I was but they took their jobs very seriously. Learning from them helped me in my daily responsibilities as well as gave me a foundation of the type of employee I wanted to emulate.
I also had significant interactions with patients and doctor’s offices via over the course of my internship. As my fear of misdirecting a caller or giving them the wrong information subsided, I really enjoyed the conversations I had and the delivery of health care. I began to see how working directly with people would be an ideal job for me, especially when I can better their experience with the medical system. I interacted with distressed patients and nurses and was able to help calm their fears and get appointments scheduled. This showed me that calm and empathetic communication is vital to even an intern’s job and that it was something I could do fairly well. Under an observational period about a month after starting this internship, I was encouraged by my evaluator to keep working in interpersonal fields and I’ve since thought a lot about that for my future career.
Although working wasn’t always fun and at times I wished I had opted for something like a study abroad experience over the summer, I still greatly benefitted from this internship. Coming out of my first two years of college feeling as though I had fallen behind in academics and career planning, I regained confidence from this experience. I am now excited rather than terrified for future interviews and to learn new skills in future jobs. I understand that the training in a field that’s rapidly changing can be exhausting but the ability to adapt is so important in the workplace. I feel that I can take on these pressures and with a job that has meaningful interactions, like the delivery of health care, I will be passionate about the work that I do.
This internship was significant in that it opened the door to further careers in health care and gave me a tangible experience working in the career field that I have been preparing for. This opportunity gave me a frame of reference on which to base my future career in health care administration. I’ve learned that there are aspects I enjoy as well as frustrations which I hope to address within health care. Over the course of the internship, I’ve questioned if this is the path I want to pursue after receiving my undergraduate degree in public health. While working for the Wexner Medical Center has opened the door to more positions in the hospital system, I’ve become more interested in the possibility of working in a smaller health care system. This internship has given me greater clarity in post-graduate plans as well as laid those foundational skills necessary for working in a health care setting.