PEMBROKE — The 10 undergraduates who participated in The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Clinical Summer Internship Program are poised to become health care professionals of the future.
Students log 240 hours in local health care clinics in their chosen field. At the conclusion of the six-week program, which is sponsored by the North Carolina Health Careers Access Program, they report on their internship and present a research paper.
Director Sylvia Johnson, who has helped nurture dozens of future doctors, dentists, pharmacists, physical therapists, nurses and more, organizes the internship program. Johnson, who is retiring this year, provides advisement, internships and assistance with professional school applications.
“The goal of the clinical health summer internships is to help make students ready for careers in health care,” Johnson said. “This can’t be accomplished without hosts who volunteer their time and talents. Over the years, we’ve had a really great group of health professionals as hosts.
Johnson said that internships give students an opportunity to “find their place” in the health care industry.
“The students get practical experience, exposure to real-life situations and an opportunity to make valuable contacts with health care professionals by which mentor relationships could form,” she said.
During the presentations, students discussed what they learned on the job. Matthew Bryant, who interned at the Maxton Medical Center, said it was a valuable experience.
“I asked a million questions; it was eye-opening.” Bryant said. “One of the most important things I learned is that no two patients are the same, even if they have the same diagnosis. It hit a nerve with me to see a parent bring in a 10-year-old who weighs over 300 pounds.”
It is not always the case, but Bryant and his fellow interns said their experience “solidified” their career plans. The most common complaint is that they wished the internships lasted longer.
The internships gave the students a top to bottom look at the workings of a health clinic, according to Marcus Dial, who interned at Pembroke Pediatrics.
“I wanted to get the whole picture of what it’s like to run a practice, so I started in the front office and worked my way back,” Dial said. “I got to shadow Dr. (Joseph) Bell for two weeks in the end.”
Andrew Brayboy, who interned with a physical therapist at Southeastern Lifestyle Fitness Center, was exposed to new treatments. He watched a procedure called dry needling, in which needles are inserted directly into the pain source. Brayboy also got hands-on experience in the front office, too.
“I was able to step out and do more with patients as time went by,” Brayboy said. “When the administrative assistant was out sick, we handled the front office too. I got good at multi-tasking.”
India Smith, who wants to be a neonatologist, interned with the Lumberton Children’s Clinic. She worked in the front office, in finance, in the lab and with babies.
“I learned the value of note taking when it comes to billing,” she said. “I like working with the nurse practitioner the best because she saw a lot of babies.
Smith said that working with so many different health professionals and patients gave her insight into what it takes to be a health care provider.
“As an intern, I was able to get on the inside looking out,” she said.
Smith and fellow intern, Kairon Locklear-Brewington, are in the Early Assurance Program, which pays their college expenses and guarantees them a spot in East Carolina’s Brody School of Medicine.
For information about the N.C. Health Careers Access Program at UNCP, call 910-521.6673 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was submitted by Scott Bigelow, public information officer for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.