Medical students gain firsthand experiences at Presence Covenant Medical Center


By Elizabeth Sayasane, Staff writer

Presence Covenant Medical Center, located only a few minutes from the heart of campus, helps serve the Champaign-Urbana community. The center’s internship program draws from a wide pool of college applicants, which it whittles down to approximately 23 people.

The program coincides with classes at the University and is designed for students majoring in applied sciences who wish to pursue careers in health administration.

The classes may require anywhere between 80 to 320 hours of interning, according to Kandi Hall, manager of volunteer services. Students can begin applying the spring semester of their junior year. The process requires an application including references and the fulfillment of certain health requirements.

Hall runs the office, which she described as “the little human resource” for internships and volunteers.

Hall oversees the application process, assigns the interns to their positions and keeps the program running smoothly.

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“We are looking for someone that would be very determined, and we want someone who’s going to be compassionate,” Hall said.

Hall said interns must be both compassionate and self-driven. She wants the interns to feel like they’re a part of an interactive team.

Mackenzie O’Shea, senior in AHS, is studying community health with a concentration in health planning and administration.

O’Shea applied for an administrative position and is involved in several departments around the hospital. She gained experience in everything from planning social events to organizing the new volunteer and internship programs herself.

Volunteer services is O’Shea’s other focus. This is where she organizes and conducts interviews with interns and volunteers, performs background checks and processes applications.

O’Shea said she found a comfortable niche at Presence.

“I think interviewing here, I could see just the passion everyone had for healthcare and all the opportunities to network and see other departments,” O’Shea said. “So I definitely felt like this was the right place for me.”

Currently, O’Shea is applying to graduate school. When considering her career, working in a hospital is very enticing.

“I definitely like the hospital atmosphere. It’s like every day is different. I just think it’s always changing and healthcare itself is just always developing and advancing, so I like that aspect of it,” O’Shea said.

For intern Caylin Alex, senior in AHS, graduate school will come a few years after she enters the workforce, directly following her graduation in the spring. Her sights are also set on working in a hospital as a consultant in administration.

Alex was drawn to the program based on referrals from peers who enjoyed their time interning at Presence. She applied in spring 2017. The positive and accommodating atmosphere encouraged her to accept the position in the Community Resource Center.

This department at Presence serves as an outreach program for members of the Champaign-Urbana area who struggle with healthcare.

Alex said her department’s primary goal is to assist the underserved community in Champaign-Urbana.

“Many people struggle to find primary care providers which can lead to unnecessary emergency room visits,” Alex said. “These emergency room visits can be very costly, but can sometimes be prevented if a patient sees a primary care provider on a regular basis.”

One of the highlights of her internship is the great deal of patient contact she is able to obtain by assisting with food referrals and the homeless shelter.

Another benefit of the program is the accommodating atmosphere. Time is provided when she has important schoolwork to complete. Her workload is manageable, and she has the added benefit of being able to witness her advisers work and to learn from experience with them.

O’Shea and Alex both managed to obtain very different, yet equally beneficial, experiences from the internship program.

“We’re very fortunate to have the University so close by because we get such wonderful interns,” Hall said.

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