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Internship program opens doors for a new generation

From Left: Heer Patel, Udochi Emeghara, Reika Oshima and Catalina Arredondo

For the last twenty years, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital has partnered with Health Careers Connection (HCC) to offer summer internships to local students. The program, which is open to undergraduate students and recent graduates from under-represented or disadvantaged backgrounds, connects talented and diverse future health professionals and leaders with real-world experience, exposure, mentoring and networking.

Senior Director of Strategic Implementation, Ambulatory and Clinical Program Development Linda Burgoon has coordinated the program at BWFH since 2014. “It is important to me and many of my colleagues to mentor the next generation of healthcare professionals,” she says. “Through the HCC program, we are able to do just that.”

Udochi Emeghara is currently interning with the Performance Improvement (PI) team. She is a rising senior at Harvard University studying Neuroscience on the Mind, Brain, Behavior track. “I knew that summer internships are a great way to narrow down your career goals and interests,” she says. “What specifically drew me to HCC was the holistic methodology they utilize to aid students. They not only place students at an internship site, but they ensure that they are equipped with the tools necessary to succeed during the summer and later in life.” 

As a member of the PI team, Emeghara spends much of her time here at BWFH working on data collection and analysis. Ultimately, she is interested in pursuing a career in behavior health. “There is a great need for quality care that is also culturally sensitive and relevant, so I would like to supply that care,” she says.

Burgoon, who keeps in touch with former interns, is happy to see so many of them go on to have fulfilling careers. “We’ve had interns go on to medical school as well as successful careers in quality, performance improvement and other administrative areas of healthcare,” she says. “I think what’s most impressive to me is the number of former interns who now work for BWFH. In such a difficult hiring environment, where it is hard to find qualified candidates, knowing that these students have experience managing data and with project management obtained right here in our hospital makes them a great fit for roles within our PI and Quality, Safety, Risk, Compliance and Infection Control teams.

Catalina Arredondo interned at BWFH in the summer of 2019 after graduating from college. She too worked with the PI team as an intern. During that time, she met Chief Advanced Practice Professional Johanna Baldassari, MSN, RN, FNP-BC. “I mentioned that I was a recent grad and job hunting, and she told me about a position available with the inpatient FACT team. I finished my internship in August of 2019 and began my full-time position as Inpatient Medicine Coordinator for the FACT team in September of 2019.”

Reika Oshima had a similar experience. She interned at BWFH in the summer of 2020 before starting her junior year at Brandeis University. As an intern, she worked closely with the PI team, as well as Baldassari and 6 South Nurse Director Suzelle Saint-Eloi, MS, RN, on a range of quality improvement projects. “After my internship, I stayed in contact with my preceptors as I finished my senior year and started my first job at a consulting firm. I greatly missed the work I did at BWFH as well as the people I met, and was recommended to apply to my current position, Quality Improvement Analyst in the Quality Department,” she says. “My internship experience helped greatly with being familiar with different departments and staff in my current role.”

For Heer Patel, the transition from intern to full-time employee was seamless. She interned in the summer of 2021 as a new graduate. “Similar to Catalina, when speaking with Patient Safety leadership during my internship work, I mentioned that I was looking for a full-time role after the completion of my internship. I was then recommended for an opportunity as the Lead Operations Coordinator at BWFH. I finished the internship towards the beginning of August, and started the new role by the end of August.”

For both the HCC interns and the hospital, the future is bright. “These are really smart kids,” says Burgoon. “They are eager to learn, and I am thrilled we are able to provide an environment in which they can. Watching their careers begin here at BWFH makes me really proud of the educational opportunity we provide and also the working environment we foster where young professionals are encouraged to grow in their careers.”

Could your department benefit from a summer intern? To learn more about the HCC program, contact Linda Burgoon.

Published 8/4/22

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