Summer Intern Jenna Gilbert ’18 Shadows Doctors, Helps Spanish-Speaking Patients at SOS Health Clinic in College Place, WA

The Whitman Summer Internship Grant has afforded me the opportunity to work as an intern at the SOS Health Clinic in College Place. This clinic offers healthcare free of charge to patients that lack insurance or means to pay for medical services. In addition to basic walk-in and urgent care visits, SOS offers chronic care, women’s health, and dermatology clinics every month. The clinic’s ability to offer these services at no cost relies completely on donations and volunteer healthcare providers, nurses, and staff dedicated to giving back to people in the Walla Walla community. This experience has been very meaningful because I can connect to Walla Walla in a way that I have never had the chance to previously by interacting with community members of many diverse backgrounds at the clinic. That engagement has allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for Walla Walla.

Not only am I learning a great deal about the community, but I am also getting valuable first-hand experience working in a medical clinic setting. As a pre-med student and aspiring physician, being able to observe my future career goals further deepens my passion for medicine. Shadowing and engaging with doctors is broadening my understanding of what being a healthcare provider involves. Additionally, I think all the behind-the-scene tasks I do such as making follow-up appointments, writing up lab orders, transitioning medical records from a paper to an electronic system, and communicating with other hospital and lab personnel is very valuable because in doing so I am getting an idea of the bigger picture of healthcare and how a clinic works.

My internship at SOS also entails running the front desk during clinic hours, translating documents into Spanish, brainstorming ways to improve the clinic, and working on a personal project. Around half of the patients that come into the clinic are Spanish-only speaking, which gives me the opportunity to practice my Spanish in a medical and professional context- a skill I hope to use in my future career. My personal project is creating a video that outlines HIPAA regulations in the context of the SOS clinic setting so that future volunteers are better informed on the do’s and don’ts of handling protected healthcare information. Altogether, the responsibilities of my internship with SOS health services help me to develop better communications skills (in English and Spanish!), think innovatively, and will hopefully leave long-lasting and beneficial impact on the clinic.

Every day I go into the clinic I gain a greater sense of appreciation for the organization and the people who devote their time to its cause. I am deeply grateful to be able to contribute to the functioning and improvement of SOS Health Services.

Experiences like Jenna’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Internship Coordinator Victoria Wolff.

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