BIDMC salutes summer interns
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has said good-bye to 41 students from Boston area high schools who worked summer internships throughout the medical center. The paid internships ran July through August with students working 25-to-32 hours each week.
"You are nothing but the choices you make, so you want to make sure your choices move you in the direction of being successful," said Boston City Councilor At-Large Felix G. Arroyo, addressing a room full of students.
"Congratulations, now you have more work experience than you did at the beginning of the summer, you've got a new line on your resume and maybe even a letter of recommendation to carry with you," said Director of Workforce Development Joanne Pokaski.
The students held internships spread throughout the medical center from development to nursing to materials handling. As John D. O'Bryant student Olumide Oyedeji who worked in contracting put it, "you don't have to be a doctor or a nurse to work here, which, to me was quite surprising. There are lots of areas in the medical field to learn and explore, you just have to be open minded."
Nathaniel Perez learned that patients and medical staff "put a lot of trust in the medical center's patient transporters." Alice McNeill, a general surgery intern, discovered a thing or two about bariatric surgery. "I learned what a healthy colon looks like, and what an unhealthy one looks like. Both are pretty gross," she said.
Karima Thompson, hired as an environmental sustainability intern, also helped run the farmer's market held each Thursday at the Bowdoin Street Health Center. Tiffany Thomas, a food services intern, worked as a cashier, helped inventory stock and trained to work in the deli, "which was my favorite," she said. "I'm like the deli master."
In addition to earning a paycheck and honing professional skills, the students also had access to weekly career exploration sessions including a panel discussion with doctors, nurses and patient care technicians (PCTs), a financial aid workshop and tours of the radiology department, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and the Carl J. Shapiro Simulation and Skills Center.
For some, the experience awakened a desire to pursue a particular career path. "At the beginning of the summer we had a lot of students who were uncertain," said Emily Beck, a program coordinator in Workforce Development who administers the summer intern program. "Now when I ask, we have a future neonatologist, pharmacist and environmentalist."
For others the internships cemented an enthusiasm to go into the medical field.
"This is my first year, but hopefully it won't be my last," said Wendy Unaegbu who worked in surgical specialties. "I learned all kinds of things including how to check vitals, which was exciting for me because I'd like to be a pediatrician."
Anana Kadri, a buyer in purchasing, said the program is a plus for BIDMC. "I wish a program like this had been around when I was a student" she said. Throughout the summer Kadri arranged 10 different informational interviews for her intern, Olumide Oyedji, including a session with pharmacy manager, Yu Cheung Choi, of special interest to Oyedji who hopes to study pharmacy.
For the past 20 years BIDMC has welcomed both high school and college students into the summer internship program. Interns are referred by community organizations, including the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC); Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD); Get Off the Corner Hangin' Around (GOTCHA); Brookline Public School's Work Connections for Youth Program, and the Gateway program at the John D. O'Bryant High School.
Arroyo sent the students off with a story about his father, Felix D. Arroyo, who was the first Latino elected to the Boston City Council. He recalls saying to his father, "wow, you're lucky," and his father replying, "luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation." Arroyo said, "I hope you take the lessons you've learned here at BIDMC and make the right choices. Don't simply wish for it, but be prepared and make it happen."