2017 Week Five: Healthcare & Health Policy
This week went by so fast! I can’t believe we only have three weeks left in our internships. I would be devastated if I hadn’t already signed up to volunteer with the clinic throughout the school year – they can’t get rid of me that quickly!
Being at the clinic 5 days a week every week has been absolutely illuminating, and I feel like I’ve gotten a broader understanding of the clinic than I would have if I had just volunteered there once a week. I get to see the everyday functions on a much closer level. There are also a lot of patients that I get to meet and converse with on a regular basis. One patient in particular calls me “Anu”, and always hangs out by the front desk for 30 minutes after, just talking to the staff up front and getting to know us better. It’s a gift to interact with our patients this way, and it’s definitely something that doesn’t happen enough at other facilities.
I’ve definitely been using this internship to think a lot about what I’d like to do in the future with my own career. I’ve realized that working in a large hospital setting might not be one that I love – there’s not a sense of consistency that I crave. I think I’d be better off serving a community in a clinic that is familiar and grounded. I’d love to work in a place like Shepherd’s, one with such a close-knit group of people. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure this out when the time comes.
This week I had the opportunity to observe and learn about the different aspects of workings of BHRC as an organization. In addition to doing more trainings with a diverse group of individuals (which is always a fun, new experience), I helped out with editing grant applications, helped make informational cards for BHRC to give out at trainings, and worked on a press release about Safe Consumption Spaces. The document that I made for the press release used text from very well-written reports, and working on the project itself made me a more knowledgeable person about this rising issue. Every opportunity, every task, and every assignment here is a learning opportunity. I also got to weigh in on restructuring the Advisory Board of BHRC, and in doing so I met some incredible members of the organization, from so many different backgrounds and areas of expertise. It gave me a framework to use to further the work of the Hopkins undergrad harm reduction chapter, Hopkins Undergraduates for Harm Reduction. I am grateful to have been given a variety of tasks, since they have made me more capable of taking on a multitude of roles for an organization. One disappointing thing about this week was that I found out that we would no longer be going to Annapolis to sit in on the meeting with delegates to talk about treatments for substance use disorder. Some of the BHRC board members and I were scheduled to attend it, but some members felt that it wouldn’t be a very productive experience since we wouldn’t get to add to the agenda. I disagreed, because sitting in and observing and listening to the conversation would be a great experience, and would help us prepare for the meeting where we contribute to the agenda. My site supervisor agreed with me. Oh well, there’s always next time. On a brighter note, I get to attend a fentanyl task force meeting next week, in addition to several trainings and tabling at Artscape. Next week will be very busy, bit I can’t wait!
This week, a transgender woman (seemingly under the influence) came into the office. After having a rough time in a detention center, she was looking for some resources. She specifically requested individual housing, which is a hard to help with. The best we can do is recommend transition housing, which commonly has waitlists. There were other resources that we pulled up for her, yet she simply dismissed them. It was hard to see her reject services that she could benefit from, especially the ones regarding behavioral health. In the end, she left with a few resources, but not all that she needed. My supervisor then discussed how there are many underground cultures and communities in the city that many use to obtain their means, commonly trusting friends over professionals. At first, I was taken aback, but the more I thought about it, who am I to judge how one lives and survives the day? Who is to say that I would not be doing the same if I were in her position?
Even though I know we did all we could for her, I still felt like I could have done more. Maybe that’s why when one of our regular patients came up to me and said, “you are one of the good ones. We need more people like you,” it really meant a lot, especially since she is known to be relatively standoffish. She reminded me why I was here and that there are various forms of “success.” Instead of directly failing people, maybe we give them just what they need. As a Hopkins student, I find it difficult to grasp this concept that strays from my personal definition of true “success,” yet I plan on using it to internally evaluative my efforts and contributions until the end of my placement. Who knew “success” would be so difficult to define? Definitely not me!
Just as I thought I was beginning to understand the scope of my work, I was challenged and learned both in an intellectual manner and about my role as an intern. This week we had a Transgender Health training that offered me new information in what care should look like but also gave me the chance to learn more about the lived experiences of trans staff members. It truly helped me understand how beautiful it is that Star Track as an organization is made up of the population it also aims to serve. To have all of the staff members in one room sharing their experiences as an advocate, a provider and a member of the community truly showcased how rich and creative the staff is. This pushed me to conceptually think about service and what the qualities we look for in those that serve us. While the week started off with me growing and learning in more of a intellectual way, later in the week I was challenged to grow as an intern. As Week 5 served as a midpoint week, my supervisor and I went through our weekly check-ins but this time went a little more in depth about what I want the course of my internship to look like. We talked about how important it is to be mindful of space but also to carve out my own space. In the last few weeks, I have been so focused on what I can do for others that sometimes I forgot about what I wanted to do. During the check-in, it became more clear that these were goals I should also be focusing on during my time at Star Track. The rest of the week shaped into something amazing and some of my best and favorite time at Star Track. While I was working with the staff, I was also focusing on projects that I was extremely interested in and had the liberty to put my own creative spin on it. Whether it was in health education or in health communication, it was a chance to make it my own while still within the framework of Star Track. I look forward to these next few weeks with an amazing staff while working within an organization that has taught me so much all while still pushing myself as an intern.Tags: 2017, Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition, Chase Brexton, CIIP, CIIP 2017, LGBT, Shepherd's Clinic, STAR TRACK, Week Five