Career Clusters Stories + Advice

Looking Ahead to Summer: How to Gain Experience in Healthcare

Though the weather outside may be getting frightful, it’s never too early to think warm thoughts about summer. There are a range of summer experiences that can help you explore a career in healthcare and gain skills to prepare you for your future and, as you think about your own summer plans, it can be helpful to learn what other students have done during their college summers.

According to our Student Summer Experiences Dashboard, 78% of students who had summer experiences in Healthcare and Nursing fields in Summer 2019 received their offers between January and May, making this the perfect time to get ready for your summer search!

Here, three BC students share information about their 2020 summer experiences. Looking for more? Reach out to other BC students listed in the summer internship database to ask them about their summer experiences.

Olivia Bird (MCAS ‘22) is a Philosophy major and completed two summer experiences: one at Advanced ENT Physicians and Surgeons of CNY and another at Marcellus Smiles Family Dentistry.

Zoe Moran (MCAS ‘21) is a Biology major and completed a summer experience at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Katherine Hanrahan (MCAS ‘22) is a Neuroscience major and completed a summer experience at Florida Spine Institute.

Q: Please indicate your title and a brief description of your role at the organization.

Olivia Bird: “Medical Scribe/Specialist: accurately and thoroughly scribed medical visits and procedures as they were being performed by physicians; oversaw patient progress of medical treatments ordered by physicians while reinforcing and upholding patient confidentiality as required by HIPAA; developed work instructions for performing critical clinical and office operations. Dental Assistant: Strengthened my knowledge of the dental care industry while working closely with outstanding professionals in the Syracuse community; gained direct, first-hand experiences in dental clinical settings and care management through assisting in dental procedures.”

Zoe Moran: “Research Intern: worked in Dr. Frank Slack’s lab and conducted research alongside a PhD candidate. Learned laboratory techniques and attended meetings and presentations.” 

Katherine Hanrahan: “Medical Assistant: as a medical assistant, I was the first medical professional the patient encountered in our office. I was responsible for taking blood pressure, temperature, assessing their pain levels, and taking notes on their reason for visit. If they were there to schedule a surgery I had to have them fill out the appropriate forms, and if they were getting injections I also helped to prepare the injections for the physician. I was also trained on how to operate the electronic medical record system, and was responsible for updating this while in the room with the patient.”

Q: How did you find this summer experience?

Olivia Bird: “I found the medical scribing experience through a family friend. For the dental assisting experience, I have worked for this dentist since Summer 2018, which came about because I shadowed this dentist throughout high school.”

Zoe Moran: “Ever since my interest in the medical field first developed, I have been particularly interested in working in the Longwood area, due to the variety and quality of work produced. This summer, I wanted to delve deeper into the lives of researchers and observe the typical day of a medical professional in a well-renowned, fast-paced work environment. 

My route to finding this summer’s internship was slightly unconventional. Instead of applying to a posted job listing, I researched various labs and hospitals in the area and sent emails to the ones that sparked my interest. However, many of the hospitals I heard from were uncertain about their summer plans due to COVID. Fortunately, a family member connected me to Dr. Slack at Beth Israel, and he said he would work with me to make my summer as meaningful as possible through a combination of in-person and remote work. This was a super exciting prospect for me, and I was thrilled to accept the position this summer.”

Katherine Hanrahan: “My brother’s friend already worked as a medical assistant at the office, and he had mentioned to my brother how much the doctor enjoyed mentoring undergraduate/recently graduated premeds. I got in touch with my brother’s friend and asked if the office would be interested in having an intern for the summer!”

Q: What was a typical week like for you in this role?

Olivia Bird: “At the doctor’s office, I worked a lot at the front desk where I interacted with patients, handled phone calls, and dealt with insurance. I would be given the charts completed during patient visits, in which I was responsible for translating the doctor’s notes into a healthcare patient portal. At the dentist, it was a lot of hands on work in assisting with fillings, bridges, crowns, impressions, etc. Both jobs were 9-5.”

Zoe Moran: “I worked 2-8/9 pm on Monday through Friday (BIDMC created 2 different shifts due to COVID-19, they were 6 am – 2 pm and 2 pm – 10 pm). I reviewed my notes about an hour before going in, wrote down my plan for the day upon arrival, carried out the experiments, made sure to write notes/conclusions for the end of the day and began to analyze the data.”

Katherine Hanrahan: “Monday-Thursday, 8am-3pm. Sometimes I was asked to stay later if it was a particularly busy day and we needed to finish up seeing patients.”

Q: What did you learn about working in this career field that you think would be helpful for other interested students to know?

Olivia Bird: “I learned that there is so much more to healthcare than simply prescribing medications, completing fillings, and annual check-ups. The social interaction and relationships you form with your patients can be just as important as the services you provide. On top of that, I had the unique opportunity to see how interconnected all areas of healthcare and overall well-being are connected.” 

Zoe Moran: “It is very rigorous and seemed to be a somewhat lonely career. It was very independent work, with little collaboration and/or time to socialize. The bays had very few people too since the pandemic, but even still, it was mostly independent, rigorous, fast-paced work. 

I learned a lot about not only the research itself, but the work ethics required by the healthcare research field. It was a rigorous few weeks, but well worth it. I really liked working in the laboratory and alongside all the graduate students, postdocs, PIs etc.”

Q: What was the highlight of this summer experience?

Olivia Bird: “The highlight of my summer experience was when I got to witness a temporomandibular joint arthroscopy. This was incredibly interesting to me as a pre-dental student because it was a perfect example of how medicine/surgery are closely related to the field of dentistry.”

Zoe Moran: “I really valued the whole experience, but one of my favorite moments was when I finished my final presentation. This required weeks of putting together, but when all of the data and analyses came together, it felt so rewarding. Also, I really enjoyed the end of summer BBQ we had (socially distanced) at Dr. Slack’s home. It was so nice to be able to chat with everyone outside of the lab setting.”

Katherine Hanrahan: “This summer experience was amazing. I was able to gain firsthand patient experience, and establish great connections with doctors, nurses, PAs, and other medical staff. Getting to interact with patients and learn firsthand how a doctor’s office operates. I had to be quick on my feet and learn how to use the EMR within the first day of my internship, so that I didn’t hold the office up. By the end of the summer, I could tell that the office really relied on me to get work done which felt really good.”

Q: Due to COVID-19, many student positions have gone remote. What advice do you have for other students who are pursuing remote experiences?

Zoe Moran: “Stay on top of the work and meetings!”

Olivia Bird: “Take advantage of the remote opportunities! In this new COVID-19 era, the possibilities for virtual care are pretty endless. Explore the fields of healthcare through virtual shadowing, telemedicine, and so much more.”

Q: Please share any additional insight, advice, or ideas about your summer experience that you think it would be important for your peers to know.

Zoe Moran: “Keep a notebook, or a virtual notebook (Docs, or Word file) to compile all notes, thoughts, data etc.”

Olivia Bird:Exploring a variety of different healthcare fields is important. However, it is also important to build relationships with those you work with and shadow. Don’t simply go through the motions of summer experience just to add it to your resume; use these experiences to learn, reflect, and grow as a student and individual.”

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