Grant Recipient: Class of 2011
Major: : Latin American Studies and Earth and Environmental Sciences
Organization: Neighborcare Health
Location: Seattle, WA
For my summer experience I was a volunteer/intern at the 45th St. Clinic in Seattle. The clinic is part of the larger city wide organization called Neighborcare Health. The organization serves many of the underinsured and uninsured residents of Seattle and the greater Seattle area. There was no formal application process for the clinic, which had never had a long term volunteer/intern, and I applied through their Human Resources department. As there was no structured volunteer system, I was able to develop my position in conjunction with my interests and the needs of the various departments in the clinic. Therefore my position continuously evolved throughout my time at the clinic. During a week I would usually spend one or two days shadowing primary care physicians and other medical staff, and the other three to four days helping staff with various tasks, such as creating databases, helping with patient education, and scheduling patients. I worked with MSS staff, primary care physicians, diabetes staff, youth clinic staff, nurses, medical assistants, lab technitions and the clinic coordinators. This position was great as the medical director with whom I worked was really interested in integrating my own interests in diabetes and obesity through various projects. I was able to work with many of the diabetic patients by translating during clinic visits, shadowing a diabetes nurse and creating a patient education display on type 2 diabetes. I also helped with the development of a foundation of a clinic outreach project for underprivileged families with obese children in conjunction with the YMCA and Seattle Children’s Hospital. During my eight weeks at the clinic I also had the opportunity to participate in community outreach for the 45th Street Clinic's Homeless Youth Clinic. During Youth Clinic hours I was also able to volunteer, and shawdow an Acupuncturist and a group of Naturopaths. Apart from being at the 45th St. Clinic, I was also able to shadow in a Neighborcare Health high school based clinic and another Seattle Neighborcare Health clinic. As there had never been a long term volunteer or intern at the clinic, my position also served as a starting point for setting up a volunteer program and identifying the areas of the clinic that could benifit from volunteer positions and also the possible roles for future volunteers. This has been a wonderful experience through which I have learned a lot about primary and public health care. More importantly, I was able to gain a greater understanding of not only the role and work of physicians, but the complete operation of a primary health clinic.