- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director
Networking. Experience. And figuring out just exactly what you want to do.
It’s the importance of interning.
And in the College of Health Sciences’ Clinical Leadership and Management major, it is greatly emphasized. That, paired with the classroom experience, can give students a full picture of what the professions are like.
Last January, Sarah Kercsmar, PhD, program director and director of undergraduate studies in Clinical Leadership and Management, and her partners at the Stuckert Career Center (namely Rachel Brand and Beth Hanneman) came up with a plan to help students get in front of those folks who need interns most.
It was speed dating. Sort of.
But in this version, there’s no romance; however, there are relationships. Kercsmar sent the word out on social media, and by the end of that month, more than 20 students gathered to speak to nine local healthcare employers in a round-robin style fashion where each got about five minutes with one another before moving to the next.
It was the first CLM Speed Dating/Summer Internship Fair. And by all accounts, it was an amazing success.
“The skills and connections our students gained this summer as a result of their internships are invaluable,” Kercsmar said. “They were able to explore additional areas of healthcare and see if they fit their interests and goals in a short-term experience while building their professional networks.”
She’s now looking forward to hosting the second annual Speed Dating Summer Internship Event from 4-6 p.m., Jan. 26, 2023, and registration is now open for employers. Student registration will be open on Dec. 1.
And now there are tangible results why these relationships are important, as the first batch of students have come back to school fresh off their internships — and they’re reporting what they’ve gotten out of the experience.
“The immersion experience has been vital in developing my understanding of a daily professional atmosphere,” said Caroline Prewitt of Lexington, who interned at University of Kentucky HealthCare. “Shadowing a member of executive leadership and their team has been invaluable to see professionalism at the highest level. Observing this level has helped foster a sense of understanding how a large organization manages their current state, as well as plan for future strategies.”
Kinsey Gilbert, of Orlando, Fla., interned at Baptist Health.
“Something I learned through this internship is that every single position in healthcare, patient-facing or not, has an impact on the patient’s journey — health IT is just more behind the scenes,” she said. “It’s good to intern, especially in college, to help figure out what you want to do and what kind of organization you want to work for.”
In fact, she said she never would have applied to a health IT job before the internship.
“But now I could see myself heading in that direction,” she said. “I also did not realize how important it is to like the organization that you work for and ensure that their mission, vision and values align with your own.”
Hannah Brown, a Lexington student who interned at Alliant Purchasing, said she saw firsthand how the professional world works.
“The CLM program has taught me more than I could ever have imagined,” she said. “However, putting that knowledge into practice and seeing firsthand how, for example, project management works, or how medical billing is done, helps put everything into perspective. You quickly see how the professional world operates and you are given the opportunity to meet wonderful people who can help push you to be the best person you can be.”
And Rebekah Cook, of Crothersville, Ind., was able to intern at Poole and Thomas Pediatrics, where she got to work with many different people and positions.
“I have (had) the opportunity to work with the physicians, clinical staff, and other administrators in our office,” she said. “Working with a variety of different people in different positions has allowed me to see the countless opportunities in healthcare.”
Now, Kercsmar is looking for more partnerships to help more students.
“We feel like once these businesses see how beneficial it is to work with our students, we hope they will want to come back every year,” she said. “And of course, we always want more professionals reaching out and participating. We feel we’re not only helping to develop future healthcare workers, but more specifically, we’re helping to develop the future of these healthcare employers’ workforces.”
Baptist Health System KY/IN
Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities & Kentucky Center for Assisted Living
Poole & Thomas Pediatrics
University of Kentucky HealthCare (multiple groups)
Kingsbrook Lifecare Center