From January to April of 2017 I had the opportunity to represent UA Little Rock’s Applied Communication department as an intern at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). This was a wonderful experience, as I was able to apply many of the skills and principles learned in my degree (how we can use communication to positively impact the world around us) to a new real-world context. At the hospital, I worked primarily on one unit with the goal of enhancing the patient and family experience. Each day was diverse, providing new experiences and unique interactions with patients, families, and other UAMS Care Team members. Although being a PFCC intern entailed numerous responsibilities, the general initiatives I supported were:
Orientating new patients to the unit and the hospital
Reviewing or providing the Patient and Family Guide containing valuable information about the hospital and patient resources
Encouraging patients and families to be active members of the health care team by staying engaged in their care and asking questions
Proactively address issues, concerns, and questions
Through my time at UAMS, I gained valuable experience in communicating in a variety of settings, whether it was with a supervisor pressed for time, a frustrated patient, a family member who is severely worried, or a high-energy colleague. Learning how to respond mindfully and ethically to the unexpected and seek resolutions that are meaningful and useful to patients is a skill I can apply in any setting.
I also grew as a result of the amazing team and leaders I worked with. Having leaders who treated me as a valuable member of the team and believed that I could make a difference gave me confidence to get out of my comfort zone. Transparent feedback and discussions with my leaders and colleagues were also an instrumental part in my success as well. We knew that we could support each other and valued the input of our team.