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12PLUS

Drexel University
2023 Summaries

12PLUS

 

Assisting Underserved High School Graduates in Attaining Post-Secondary Aspirations (click to view poster)

 

Student Interns:

Zagros Asadi, Drexel University College of Medicine

Kieran Mullins, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Zach Kassutto, MD, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Community Preceptor:

Harry Levant, 12Plus

 

Community Site:

12Plus is a nonprofit organization that provides support during and after high school to help students and alumni reach their academic and career goals.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted the 12Plus alumni team with outreach to help alumni pursue their desired future careers or educational pathways. The interns reached out to recent graduates to check in about life after high school and worked to help them achieve their stated goals or pursue new paths. Many alumni were interested in either two-year or four-year colleges, so interns worked to guide them through enrollment steps and financial aid issues. Other alumni sought pathways such as joining the workforce or attending trade school, and the interns worked on a case-by-case basis with these alumni to help them achieve their goals. The interns also updated the 12Plus alumni tracker with all relevant information so that the organization can remain in touch with recent graduates and continue to help them into the fall and beyond.

 

Intern Reflections:

Zagros Asadi: “Working at 12Plus this summer was an incredibly rewarding experience for me, as I was able to see the direct impacts of my work on an alumnus’s future career or educational plans. Furthermore, my work really opened my eyes to the challenges that many first-generation and lower-income high school graduates face, either due to familial commitments or due to an environment that may not support them in reaching their goals. This lack of support in the environment was reflected in the extensive gratitude and thankfulness conveyed to us by our alumni, and truly made me feel privileged to be able to work with such a great team and organization.”

 

Kieran Mullins: “Representing 12Plus as an alumni team member this summer has been an incredibly fulfilling journey. This opportunity has widened my perspective on the challenges students face to break societal barriers, particularly those from underrepresented and under-resourced backgrounds. This experience has strengthened my dedication to advocating for inclusivity and providing equitable opportunities for all. I am grateful that 12Plus allowed me the opportunity to positively impact graduating high school students within the Philadelphia and Camden communities.”

 

 

Broad Street Ministry

Radical Hospitality at Broad Street Ministry: A Compassionate Approach to Offering Restorative Services (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Rayce Newswanger, Drexel University College of Medicine

John Sauerland, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Community Preceptors:

Nikki Brown, MSW, Broad Street Ministry

Geremi James, LSW, MSW, Broad Street Ministry

 

Community Site:

Broad Street Ministry is an organization in Philadelphia that employs a practice of radical hospitality in its approach to offering services, including its meal program, kitchen takeover series, mail and ID service, concierge program (case management), reentry services, personal care and hygiene truck, and the Broad Street Ministry Boutique. Radical hospitality is a means of creating a welcoming community and communicating dignity by treating each person walking through the doors as a host would treat a guest at home. Moreover, staff and volunteers here emphasize trauma-aware and person-centered care.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns rotated through several of the services offered at Broad Street Ministry and performed various research and outreach activities. The interns worked primarily as concierges (case management officers) and assisted with the mail and ID procurement service. Through the concierge program, interns helped guests obtain identity documents, fill out welfare applications, access documents, navigate and advocate for shelter and housing, find employment, access healthcare, obtain a mailing address, obtain a path to citizenship for migrant families, and more. These resources and services were delivered in a person-centered, trauma-aware manner to best support Broad Street Ministry guests.

 

Intern Reflections:

Rayce Newswanger: “My goal is to humanize, destigmatize, and be an advocate for the population that Broad Street Ministry serves. With one of my main interests being emergency medicine, I know that I will continue to interact with this population because their health is drastically affected by their situations and lack of access to maintenance healthcare, which leads to more life-threatening complications. Sometimes it’s also the only place they may feel they can turn. Unfortunately, many times healthcare workers dismiss a lot of their complaints due to bias and stigma. I want to change the culture wherever I work in the future by informing my colleagues of the insight I have gained by working directly with this population. Many do not understand how hard it is to succeed in the situations that many of our guests are in. Many think that they are there by choice, but do not know a single thing about their life or story. We need to as a society stop treating this population as the ‘other’ and start treating them as we would our family if they were homeless or experiencing substance use disorders. They are trying to better their lives, but due to the system they need the help of others to get back on their feet.”

 

John Sauerland: “On my first day at Broad Street Ministry, I noticed several things that made this organization stand out from others. I was impressed by how this site had so many services under one roof, how all of the staff are committed to delivering services consistent with the mission of radical hospitality, and how the organization is well-run. Much of this speaks to the people who work and volunteer at Broad Street Ministry. While I am sure that many organizations have a goal of being welcoming and respectful, the staff at Broad Street Ministry takes this to heart and makes sure that every guest is treated with dignity and integrity. It is unfortunate that outside of this organization guests, who are a marginalized group of individuals experiencing deep poverty and homelessness, are often not treated with respect in other places. In many cases, they are sometimes treated as less than human. It is so important to treat guests (or anyone for that matter) with dignity and respect. How guests are treated determines whether they will return to seek services and makes a profound impact on their quality of life. Having staff that is committed to the mission and not ‘going through the motions’ for a paycheck allows the mission to be fulfilled and, in turn, makes for a tremendous guest experience that should be replicated elsewhere.”

Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly (CARIE)

 

Advocating for an Increase to the Personal Needs Allowance in PA (click to view poster)

 

Student Interns:

Rory Milsark, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

Anjali Pradhan, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

James Buehler, MD, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

 

Community Preceptors:

Lori Walsh, MPPM, Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of Elders

 

Community Site:

The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of Elders (CARIE) is a Philadelphia-based group whose work includes education on elders’ rights, efforts to change local and state legislation to better serve elders, and the dissemination of free information pertaining to difficulties elders experience. In addition to advocacy work, CARIE also maintains a free hotline for anyone who has questions or concerns about elder rights and social issues. CARIE’s long-term care (LTC) ombudsman is responsible for compliance management and advocacy on behalf of long-term care residents who have experienced a violation of their rights.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on an advocacy project focused on increasing the personal needs allowance (PNA) for adults living in nursing homes in Pennsylvania. This work included research to understand the legislative process as well as legal terms associated with the PNA. The interns also conducted interviews in nursing homes in Philadelphia and Montgomery County to understand the views of residents on the need for an increased personal needs allowance. These interviews will be used for a CARIE social media campaign with the goal of educating legislators and advocates about the PNA. The interns also pulled together additional resources such as a call-to-action pamphlet and brief background paper for CARIE to use in the future.

 

Intern Reflections:

Rory Milsark: “My experience at CARIE has been eye-opening to a world of issues and logistics I knew little of. There are so many issues that people are advocating for, and it happens in every state. It has been interesting to learn about the connection between advocacy groups like CARIE and the state government. CARIE has a lot more authority than I knew. The government relies on CARIE’s opinion and data before they make decisions, and CARIE and other groups have serious sway in terms of legislative support. CARIE has the power to introduce new bills through political champions, and that is exactly what they were initially hoping to do before being blindsided by HB 1606.”

 

Anjali Pradhan: “I found my experience at CARIE to be extremely insightful. I appreciated the opportunity to learn about the personal needs allowance and how it impacts individuals living in nursing homes. Additionally, I enjoyed learning about the legislative process and the work and research that goes into advocating for an issue like this one. However, my favorite part of this experience has been speaking with older adults in nursing homes. Hearing their stories and how the PNA impacts them was eye-opening. I hope that the work that we did at CARIE this summer can contribute to improving the lives of nursing home residents in some way.”

CCIU Migrant Education Program

Together, We Are Stronger (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Eduardo Moreno, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Kavya Viswanathan, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

 

Academic Preceptor:

Jeremiah Goldstein, MD, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Preceptor:

Karisa Barlow, CCIU Migrant Education Program

 

Community Site:

The CCIU (Chester County Intermediate Unit) Migrant Education Program works closely with various migrant communities in the Philadelphia area to provide a full-time summer education program where children from pre-K to high school are encouraged to develop fluency in the English language through literacy, STEM, music, and dance classes, as well as through multiple field trips to various sites in the greater Philadelphia area.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked together, applying their different levels of artistic knowledge to create music and dance spaces that would encourage children to explore different ways of self-expression. They worked closely with all age groups from pre-K to high school, promoting socialization and giving the students the opportunity to explore different forms of expression and music genres; this sparked conversations that enhanced the ultimate goal of promoting the development of literacy and English fluency. Dance, movement, playing music with various instruments, and music appreciation of all genres were the focus.

 

Intern Reflections:

Eduardo Moreno and Kavya Viswanathan: “Our time together as BTG interns has been incredibly valuable. Having the opportunity to work closely with CCIU at the John H. Taggart School in South Philadelphia not only allowed the children to learn music and dance as a way of self-expression; it also promoted self-reflection in both of us thinking ahead at our professional future as healthcare practitioners within our field of creative art therapies. The kids’ lack of fluency in English did not stop them from trying to communicate their opinions and ideas regarding our space together and how they wanted to use it. Therefore, it was up to us to use their energy to create a space of joy, exploration, and freedom to fully express ourselves.

 Considering the perspectives of the children, from the very young to the older ones, was incredibly impactful when defining ways to connect with them. Allowing them to play their music and explain why they feel driven to listen to it. Exploring different instruments, regardless of whether they knew how to play them, promotes autonomy and self-esteem when accomplishing a musical goal. Promoting dances and movements to explore ways to release stress and tension using our body in a healthy way. Our time together was marked by the notion of learning together instead of them only learning from us.

 We take these lessons, and we are confident we will find ways to translate them into our fields, always focusing on the well-being of our patients just like we have focused on the well-being of our students during these past couple of weeks.

Depaul USA

 

Homelessness Has No Place (click to view poster)

 

Student Interns:

Brianna Cattelino, Drexel University College of Medicine

Colin Moran, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Steven Peitzman, MD, FACP, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Community Preceptor:

Brendan Sculley, MSW, Depaul USA

 

Community Site:

Depaul USA, Philadelphia, opened in April 2009 and manages six programs, including a social enterprise that provides employment for previously housing-insecure individuals, transitional housing for young adults in the foster care system, long-term housing for disabled individuals, supportive housing for college students, and a six-month live-in recovery program. Depaul provides extensive services including housing, financial assistance, case management, and employment assistance. The organization strives to cultivate support networks for residents so that they can meet their individual goals of quality of life and stability.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked at three sites run by Depaul USA, Philadelphia: Depaul House, St. Raymond’s, and St. Joseph’s. Depaul House focuses on men in recovery, St. Raymond’s provides long-term housing to individuals who were previously unhoused, and St. Joseph’s provides housing for college students experiencing housing insecurity. Due to the unique needs of each site, the interns surveyed the needs of each location separately before scheduling programs. The interns provided one-on-one assistance with résumé-building and job-seeking skills for residents in the Depaul House recovery program. They helped residents at St. Raymond’s apply for housing and disability services, led conversations about smoking cessation and general health, and assisted with scheduling medical appointments. At St. Joseph’s, the interns focused on practical life skills, such as mapping out educational goals and milestones and career planning. They also encouraged residents to join in gardening and, at St. Raymond’s, in landscaping the front courtyard The interns also supported Depaul House administration with planning the fall fundraiser and research to support a new medical respite program proposal.

 

Intern Reflections:

Brianna Cattelino: “This internship has provided a no-frills look at the intersection of homelessness, mental health, substance use, and recovery. It seems almost obvious to say, but throughout the summer I have seen how there really is no single path to homelessness or addiction. Additionally, there are innumerable aspects of our society that make those experiences harder to work through. Navigating social services, affordable housing, managing healthcare, etc. feels like an uphill battle most of the time. In getting to know residents at each of the houses, I have also begun to think about my role as a medical provider in a new light, especially when taking care of individuals experiencing homelessness, housing insecurity, or in recovery. I have seen how difficult continuity of care can be for these populations and witnessed the confusion that can arise while trying to interpret medical instructions. I think this is one of the most valuable insights from this summer, and I hope to use this knowledge to make me a more aware, intentional, and considerate physician in the future.”

 

Colin Moran: “This experience will benefit me professionally in many different ways. At the most basic level I now have a better understanding of the logistics of homeless services and how to navigate the infrastructure of available resources. While this undoubtedly will be very helpful knowledge to have in the future, I feel that my time spent getting to know the residents of these great communities will be where the real benefits lie. Building trust with the residents and hearing their stories has grown my sense of empathy, and I look forward to continuing to work with similar populations in the future.” 

 

 

Drexel Food Lab

The Intersectionality of Food & Medicine: Creating a Healthy Sustainable Diet (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Rodaina Ahmed, Drexel University College of Medicine

Cynthia Huang, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Emily Spengler, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Preceptors:

Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, CRC, CHE, Drexel University, Departments of Food and Hospitality Management and Nutrition Sciences

Rachel Sherman, Drexel University, Department of Food and Hospitality Management

 

Community Site:

With the motto “Do good. Feed better. Keep going,” the Drexel Food Lab is a faculty-mentored interdisciplinary food product design and culinary innovation research lab solving real-world problems in sustainability and health promotion and access. It applies culinary arts and science to improve the health of people, the planet, and economies. In doing so, Drexel Food Lab not only develops new food products and menu items with entrepreneurs, and industry, nonprofit, and government partners, but also develops flagship products graduates across disciplines who are poised to improve the food system.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted with all the various activities of the Food Lab, including community lunches, product development, client meetings, research, and presentations on healthy eating, among others. The main project focused on sustainability through teaching home cooks how to reduce food waste. Another major project was centered on the concept that food plays a critical role in healing chronic diseases. The interns also volunteered with various community food organizations, such as MANNA, Philabundance, and Broad Street Ministry, in order to gain a better understanding of the food resources available in the community.

 

Intern Reflections:

Rodaina Ahmed: “Being a part of the Food Lab this summer has been nothing short of exceptional. I purposely chose this site to step outside of my comfort zone and get more experience in the culinary realm. We followed the daily activities of the lab from meeting clients to following recipes in the kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed the spontaneity of each day and was always looking forward to the next. Our preceptors welcomed us with open arms and gave us various options of projects to work on each day. To get more firsthand involvement in the community volunteering at MANNA, Broad Street Ministry, and Philabundance were such fulfilling experiences and great resources to take into the future. My experience this summer has further emphasized the importance of how food is medicine and how both topics should be integrated more in medical education. Interning here has widened my scope on nutrition and taught me numerous valuable skills transferable to the medical field that will assist me as I become a physician.”

 

Cynthia Huang: “Working in the Food Lab this summer was an absolutely amazing experience. I chose this site because nutrition is something I’m very passionate about, and I learned so much working at this site. Every day was different and exciting, and that spontaneity is part of what made the Food Lab so fun to work in. The community preceptors were also very supportive and let us have a very big input in our activities for the internship. For example, because we were interested in community food resources, they let us spend every Monday with a different organization, such as MANNA, Philabundance, and Broad Street Ministry. This site really emphasized to me the concept that food is so much more than just sustenance: It is community, innovation, collaboration, culture — and perhaps most relevant to me as a future physician, food is health and food is medicine. It is definitely not the most conventional community health site, but I think it is an invaluable opportunity for future health professionals to get a unique and deeper understanding of how food has huge impacts on health and on communities.”

Einstein Immunodeficiency Center (IDC)

 

Cervical Cancer Screening Project (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Tessa Palisoc, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Kristen Ryczak, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Community Preceptor:

Nicola D’Souza, MPH, LSW, Einstein Immunodeficiency Center

 

Community Site:

Founded in 1994, the Einstein Immunodeficiency Center (IDC) is housed within the Community Practice Center at Einstein Medical Center, which is part of Jefferson Health System. Funded by the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the IDC provides numerous services to adults living with HIV, including primary care, mental health counseling, nutrition counseling, and social work.

 

Project:

People living with HIV have an increased risk of cervical cancer, and it is recommended that they have a Pap test once per year. Unfortunately, the majority of this patient population is overdue for this screening. The Bridging the Gaps intern worked with the IDC’s quality improvement team to identify and provide outreach to patients who were due for cervical cancer screenings. This project involved compiling data on individual patients, correcting database errors, and making outreach phone calls to patients. Outside of this project, the intern had the opportunity to attend webinars on HIV care and quality improvement.

 

Intern Reflections:

Tessa Palisoc: “This summer was a fantastic, educational experience exploring the intersection between community medicine, public health, and social work. As someone who is interested in infectious diseases, I am so glad I had the opportunity to learn about the needs and realities of people living with HIV in this community. I had the honor of observing how a clinic serves its patients, even when resources are limited or patients face substantial barriers to care. I came away from this internship feeling that I have made a small but important impact, and I am so grateful to have participated in this project.”

 

 

Einstein Pride Program

 

Bridging the Gaps to Affirming Care: Addressing the Needs of LGBTQ+ Patients in Philadelphia (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Lorenzo Guani, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Kristen Ryczak, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Community Preceptor:

Amos Koffa, MSW, Einstein Pride Program

 

Community Site:

The Einstein Pride Program offers the LGBTQ+ community a professional, safe, and caring home for their healthcare needs. The Pride Program offers a wide variety of services for patients, including primary care, OB/GYN care, a free letter of support for gender-affirming surgeries, and much more. The Pride Program also strives to remove barriers to care by advocating for patients’ needs across the Einstein Healthcare Network and attempting to interrupt systemic and institutionalized oppression, racism, homophobia, and transphobia in the field of healthcare.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern worked closely with the Pride Program team to help meet the needs of patients within the program. The intern worked with patients to schedule them with primary care physicians, OB/GYN providers, and mental health professionals. The intern also connected patients to social supports, such as housing support, and assisted patients with gathering resources for gender-affirming surgeries. In addition, the intern had the opportunity to help update consent forms for pediatric patients beginning gender-affirming hormone therapies.

 

Intern Reflections:

Lorenzo Guani: “Working at the Pride Program this summer has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had thus far. I witnessed the experiences of LGBTQ+ patients in Philadelphia and how many providers in the area are not entirely affirming or inclusive of patients who fall outside of the binary. Importantly, too, it felt really gratifying knowing that I was helping connect patients to providers who would be affirming and inclusive of their identities. After working at the Einstein Pride Program, I know that I want to integrate gender-affirming care into my future career and will advocate and ensure that all patients are provided the safe, inclusive medical care they deserve. I hope to also use this experience to help educate my fellow peers and colleagues on the experiences of trans and gender-diverse patients, and how they can make their future medical practice more responsive to this population.”

Frankie's World foundation 

Frankie’s World Summer Day Camp (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Reilly Callahan, Drexel University College of Medicine

Mark Cameron, Drexel University College of Medicine

Irene Schaible, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Kelley White, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Community Preceptor:

Conny Lockwood, Frankie’s World

 

Community Site:

Frankie’s World is a nonprofit medical day-care center and preschool for children with special and medical needs in the Philadelphia area. At Frankie’s, the staff of skilled nurses and teachers provides comprehensive care and early-childhood education to encourage physical, social, and educational development. As a safe, accepting place for children from all walks of life, Frankie’s World serves its community as a place to play, learn, and grow together.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted Frankie’s World in planning, organizing, and leading a summer camp for current Frankie’s members and graduated students. Each day, the interns planned and led educational lessons, craft activities, and group games for children aged 5 to 10. The interns incorporated a range of activities to help the students practice both gross and fine motor skills and to encourage their social and emotional development. For one-on-one and group activities, the interns used fun, kid-friendly techniques to promote comprehensive physical and mental wellness within the community. The interns also created a resource guide full of additional activities and lessons for Frankie’s staff to use in the remaining month of summer camp after the BTG program ended.

 

Intern Reflections:

Reilly Callahan: “Frankie’s World seamlessly integrates all aspects of care for children. Care here goes beyond merely providing healthcare, as it merges educational, physical, and emotional learning for patients. At Frankie’s, staff intentionally bridge gaps between patients’ healthcare providers and their families. Seeing the impact of this organization has underscored the importance of delivering comprehensive and easily understandable patient education that melds within the lives of my patients and their families.”

 

Mark Cameron: “Frankie’s World allows for all children to have a chance to play and, in the words of Frankie herself, have a friend. Here it does not matter if you have trouble seeing, wear a backpack with a G-tube and feed, or have to take breaks from activity to monitor your blood sugar. There is space for everyone, and staff with the expertise to handle it. The children here offer a unique window into their world. While they can have trouble communicating their ideas, they are brutally honest — except when they don’t want to admit breaking a rule. They speak about their families, their challenges, and how they interact with the world using their own forms of communication. I am grateful for the time I spent with the children here, the lessons they taught me on how they see the world through their eyes, and the insight into care from all the staff here.”

 

Irene Schaible: “Frankie’s World is a place where all kids get to be just a kid. It’s a place where sick kids who otherwise would spend their days with a home-care nurse get to interact with other kids, develop social skills, learn, and play. Frankie’s World provides experienced nurses who ensure the kids receive great medical care while still allowing them to run and play. Working with these kids over the past several weeks and seeing how they adapt the activities to their own abilities has been both fun and educational. The impact that Frankie’s World has on these kids, their physical and mental health, and their families is tremendous, and I am grateful to have played a small part in contributing to it.”

Gaudenzia - Philly House Women's Program

It’s Never Too Late: What Life Looks Like After Incarceration (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Rachel Quinn, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Charlene Chen, MD, Esperanza Health Center

 

Community Preceptor:

Rayn Phillips, MSW, LSW, Gaudenzia Inc.

 

Community Site:

Gaudenzia aspires to connect individuals and families to addiction and mental health treatment so they can attain long-term recovery and achieve a fulfilling life embraced by a broad community of mutual support. The Gaudenzia Philly House Women’s Program is a halfway house that has a contract with the Department of Corrections and aims to provide a successful transition from prison back into society.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern at Gaudenzia Philly House Women’s Program worked with individuals who are reentering society from prison. The intern supported these individuals by actively listening to their stories and providing them with access to resources. The intern helped connect residents to medical care and accompanied them to medical appointments to help advocate for their healthcare needs. The intern also led group discussions on cardiovascular health, oral health, and emotional well-being.

 

Intern Reflections:

Rachel Quinn: “My experience at the Gaudenzia Philly House Women’s Program opened my eyes to the inequities individuals face when reintegrating into society from prison. Through BTG, I was able to work with a population that does not receive care, support, or attention from our society. Despite serving their time, these women are given permanent labels that affect their ability to receive proper healthcare, employment, and housing needs. After working with these women and listening to their life stories, I learned how systemic inequities and challenging life circumstances often contributed to the mistakes they made, which ultimately resulted in their incarceration. My main takeaway is that no matter what someone did in the past, they are deserving of support and a chance for growth.”

Gaudenzia - Together House Men's Program

Supporting Individuals With Substance Use Disorder and Co-Existing Conditions (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Benjamin Berman, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Charlene Chen, MD, Esperanza Health Center

 

Community Preceptor:

Rayn Phillips, MSW, LSW, Gaudenzia Inc.

 

Community Site:

The Gaudenzia Together House Men’s Program provides addiction treatment services for adult men with a history of criminal justice involvement, including high-intensity residential substance use disorder treatment, co-occurring disorders treatment, individual and group counseling, trauma-informed care, culture-informed care, and gender-responsive care.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern at Gaudenzia Together House Men’s Program learned the full process of the Gaudenzia recovery pipeline for substance use disorders, from detox to intake and programming to discharge. The intern learned to take clinical notes during group sessions, conduct biopsychosocial interviews and other intake processes, and was exposed to the different functions of the full clinical team of an addiction services center. In addition, the intern shadowed the medical staff, assisted with physical assessments, and co-facilitated group sessions focusing on coping strategies.

 

Intern Reflections:

Benjamin Berman: “Working at Gaudenzia was an eye-opening experience. Every day was a new challenge and a new chance to learn. What stood out most to me was speaking with the clients on the floor. The clients all have a story behind their addiction, and it truly exposed me to the co-existing determinants of health. I learned a lot from the clinical and medical staff and was able to the see the process at Gaudenzia, start to finish. Gaudenzia has impacted my patience and awareness of trauma-informed care and exposed me to the field of addiction medicine. The skills and perspectives I have learned at Gaudenzia will stick with me, and I know they will benefit me as a future healthcare professional.”

Heights Philadelphia

Reaching New Heights: Nurturing Adolescents in Urban Environments (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Tiffany Holmes, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

Tahiyya Khan, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

Milan Patel, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Renee Kottenhahn, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Preceptor:

Daniel Ceva, Heights Philadelphia

 

Community Site:

Heights Philadelphia (a merger of Philadelphia Futures and Steppingstone Scholars) is committed to transforming the pathways to college and career for Philadelphia’s students. Heights’ vision is to create a place where Black, brown, and first-generation scholars find support to reach their full potential. When all students graduate high school and achieve economic mobility, this community thrives.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns assisted with two sessions in academic classrooms each day and led an hour-long elective class titled Arts, Crafts, and Expression. The elective focused on one-time lessons similar to home economics, encompassing nutritional food choices, sewing, sustainability, debating, storytelling, and movement styles. The end of each academic day consisted of a one-hour lesson on skills needed for high school, college, and beyond (study skills, healthy habits, leadership styles, etc.). The interns also acted as additional chaperones for field trips.

 

Intern Reflections:

Tiffany Holmes: “This experience has given me a lot of information on what it takes to help adolescents I’m meeting for the first time feel safe enough to share difficult information with an adult. Since I plan to work with adolescents (from early to late adolescence) in my career, this summer experience has been vital to cultivating my approach. While much of the information I used or was shared with me over the summer specific to adolescents is information I have already learned through academic and life experiences, the confirmation in a new setting helped to solidify my desire to work with this age group. These kids are smart, tuned in to their environment (both positively and negatively), and at a pivotal point in their development. This is where they start to make choices for themselves to either continue the path they have been on so far in their lives or to change the direction they are headed. It has also been a great experience to witness in real time other adults come to the same realizations about the abilities and the importance of this age group that I have. I feel like it’s easy to see resistant behavior as disrespect instead of a vying for control in a world/life where these kids may have little to none. Since we are working with (primarily) minority kids in an urban setting where a lot of spaces decide these kids won’t be successful before they even graduate, I feel like this is the time and the age group where they need adults with the most understanding. In my experience, some adults keep that adolescent mentality of seeking control in a world where they have so little. This is especially true in oppressed and downtrodden environments. The work this summer has reinforced for me the values I learned at 11th Street Family Health Services and the sanctuary model. It is a reminder to look at the ‘why’ behind so-called bad behaviors and habits, not just the ‘what.’ My time spent at Heights Philadelphia has solidified for me the need for adults who specialize in the adolescent age group for support, for understanding, and to believe in what they can accomplish.”

 

Tahiyya Khan: “The Heights community welcomed me with open arms to become a role model for students during one of their more difficult and vulnerable areas of being an adolescent. Having no prior experience working with this age group, I felt very unprepared at first. With the help of the wonderful staff, I was able to become more confident and share the appreciation and commitment that they had regarding the students and their passion to see them succeed. Being with the students during my time here has been very enlightening, as they have shown that learning and growth are gifts that should not be taken for granted. Their awareness of the knowledge they have gained so far has allowed me to support students in growing their confidence and recognize that self-expression plays an important role in all aspects of life. Throughout my time, I was able to watch the students make meaningful relationships with others and engage in thoughtful discussions that they felt would be important to them in the near future.

I saw how the concept of learning became a continuous loop among the students and staff, and how open-minded the community was in receiving help and support from each other. They additionally gave me the ability to think outside of the box to mentor students in mental health using creative strategies as a stress outlet. Being part of an environment that encouraged different opportunities for minority students to enter higher education despite the present barriers made me feel proud, and that the power of a few can create an impact of many benefits. This experience has given me the aim to continue empowering others through education with the same ambition that I saw throughout the students as a public health professional.”

 

Milan Patel: “Heights Philadelphia provided a unique experience where I was able to mentor students directly at an age where mentorship and good habits create long-lasting lifestyle interpretations and changes. Being able to interact with the students at first was nerve-racking, yet it quickly became an extremely impactful and fulfilling experience. Heights was not my first interaction with students in this age group (as I have worked with second-year high school students at Drexel), but it was the first time I was working with students during a time period where they did not really know what to expect for high school and life beyond. My interactions were both informative and playful, and they showed me how students in the present era are extremely intelligent and hyper-aware of the circumstances that are going on in the world. Though they gave this impression, they also showed me that they still are children first and foremost, and though they understood such complex topics such as sociocultural intersectionality and political activism, they knew that they could only do so much as students and that they had big aspirations in order to change the world for the better. It was an idea that was written between the lines of my interactions with them. It was quite eye-opening hearing them understand the complexity of the world at such a young age, but if anything, this experience has shown me that students know so much more than we knew at their age and that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to a student that knows what they want and is prepared to attain that when they are older. My interactions with the staff were just as fruitful as my interactions with the students. Everyone was very welcoming, warm, supportive, joyful, understanding, and optimistic, and the list keeps going on. They showed how powerful and efficient a team can be when communication and empathy are outwardly expressed between other individuals on the team. They also helped me realize how important it is to ask for support when you realize your own limitations. There were plenty of times during the beginning of the program when I was not sure how to go about a situation with a student, but I was always able to rely and lean on my fellow staff members to assist me in de-escalating a situation while also learning how to de-escalate in a situation where I would not be able to get explicit support. Overall, working with everyone at Heights was pleasant and enjoyable, and I really hope I will be able to see everyone again in a future program or experience where we can help nurture and enrich the lives of adolescents.”

HMS School, School for Children with Cerebral Palsy 

Summer Fun at HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Adeayo Adenusi, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Kayla Buchanan, Drexel University College of Medicine

Franklin King, Drexel University College of Medicine

Dylan Maskell, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

Stacy Ellen, DO, Drexel University College of Medicine

Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

 

Community Preceptors:

Julie Conway, SLP, HMS School

Teresa Giardina, MSEd, HMS School

 

Community Site:

HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy is in the University City neighborhood of West Philadelphia. The school serves students aged 5 to 21 who have cerebral palsy or other complex disabilities. HMS School’s mission focuses on enabling all students to reach their maximum potential in an academic context, but also helping them thrive outside of the HMS setting. They do this by promoting independence and improving the quality of life for their students in a safe and secure environment, so that each student can lead a fulfilling, stimulating life, now and as an adult.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns were assigned to different classrooms and assisted with the daily activities of the students throughout the school day. The interns were also invited to shadow students’ sessions in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy throughout the summer. During weekly meetings with community preceptors, the interns had the chance to learn about and discuss various aspects of care for individuals with cerebral palsy, such as specialized dental care and feeding challenges.

 

Intern Reflections:

Adeayo Adenusi: “My summer with HMS has been unlike anything that I have experienced before. Prior to beginning my journey at HMS, I was very nervous and was not quite sure what to expect. As the summer progressed, however, I began to feel much more comfortable and confident interacting with children with cerebral palsy. In addition to this, I was able to uncover new ways of becoming a better advocate for the special-needs population. After going through my experience with Bridging the Gaps, combined with the bonds I have formed while working with the students, I can confidently say that I am going to miss each and every one of them. Reflecting on their personal stories and witnessing how far they have come has motivated me to continue in my pursuits for more accessible healthcare across all disciplines.”

 

Kayla Buchanan: “Spending time at HMS was unlike any experience I’ve had; although I was a bit intimidated at first to enter this space out of fear that I wouldn’t know how to be helpful, it became clear that the most natural thing to do was just connect with the kids. The students at HMS are sweet, hilarious, and full of life, and I am so thankful to have had the chance to get to know them. I also learned a great deal from interacting with the teachers, administrators, nurses, and therapists at HMS and how these disciplines all come together to form the greater HMS community.”

 

Franklin King: “The time I spent at HMS this summer has been an invaluable experience that I hope to carry many lessons from into my future career in medicine. Working with a complete care team demonstrated the necessity of a variety of interventions such as OT, PT, and speech therapy in ensuring children with cerebral palsy have the tools to succeed in life. In my interactions with the kids at HMS I learned so much about the unique communication strategies they each used and came to know them for the beautiful people they are. It was a privilege to learn and grow alongside the people I came into contact with during my internship, and I would recommend this experience to anyone entering into a healthcare field.”

 

Dylan Maskell: “Nothing can prepare you for the transformative experience you will gain from being able to work at HMS. Throughout the summer I had the pleasure of forming meaningful relationships with both the staff and students at the school. This experience reaffirmed the passion I have for working with this population and has prepared me for the interactions I will have with patients. I can’t wait to carry this experience with me throughout my career and life.”

CARIE
CCIU
DePaul USA
Gaudenzia Men
Heights Phila
Broad St Ministry
DU Food Lab
Einstein IDC
Einstein PP
Frankie's World
Gaudenzia Women
HMS School
Legacy Tennis
Mental Health Partner
North Light
Nortern Children
PDPH
Programs Employing People
St. Chris CCYSHN
St. Chris Urban
St. Chris CPCC
St. Chris Summer Meals
UU House

Legacy Youth Tennis and Education

 

Legacy Youth Tennis Community Camp (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Neha Divi, Drexel University College of Medicine

Nila Kirupaharan, Drexel University College of Medicine

Marisa Langton, Drexel University College of Medicine

Arjun Ramachandran, Drexel University College of Medicine

Geoffrey Zhang, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Daniel Taylor, DO, FAAP, FACOP, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Preceptors:

Joni Helton, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education

Josh Irving, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education

Chris Pender, Legacy Youth Tennis and Education

 

Community Site:

Legacy Youth Tennis and Education offers free and low-cost seven-week summer tennis camps at 18 sites throughout Philadelphia. Campers receive tennis skill development, mentorship, and an opportunity to compete in the U.S. Tennis Association essay contest. Legacy’s inclusive and affordable community camps promote the development of high-achieving athletes while simultaneously making fitness education and character development more accessible. Legacy’s Out-of-School-Time Program partners with local Philadelphia schools to provide safe and enriching childcare during the summer and after school.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns were assigned to various Community Tennis Camp sites (such as Parkside, Allen’s Lane, and Water Tower Recreation Center) throughout the greater Philadelphia area. At community sites, interns collaborated with site directors, tennis instructors, and junior tennis instructors to help deliver tennis-centered programming including warm-ups, skill development drills, and group games. In addition, interns also spent time at the main Legacy Center, working on social media marketing, camper registration, and other behind-the-scenes administrative/organizational tasks to help the programs run smoothly. 

 

Intern Reflections:

Neha Divi, Nila Kirupaharan, Marisa Langton, Arjun Ramachandran, and Geoffrey Zhang: “One of the most rewarding aspects of interning at Legacy was the opportunity to develop relationships with the campers and coaches. Over the course of the seven-week camp, we got to see the kids open up with us, and ultimately saw them grow as players and people both on and off the court. Through encouraging communication with the campers, we also learned how to guide the kids through processing their emotions and more effectively work through conflicts. Further, we gained experience in leveling our communication with everyone we worked with, regardless of differences in age or experience. Bringing this experience to our careers as physicians, we look forward to continuing to understand others and center our interactions around building lasting relationships with both our patients and our communities.”

 

Mental Health Partnerships, The Well and A New Life

Empowering Minds and Nurturing Connections: Mental Health Transformation Through Art, Music, and Wellness (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Margaux Games, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Esther Chernak, MD, MPH, FACP, Drexel University College of Medicine​, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

 

Community Preceptor:

Debora King, MA, LPC, ATR-BC, Mental Health Partnerships

 

Community Site:

Since 1951, Mental Health Partnerships (MHP) has been at the forefront of transforming mental health services. Its foundation lies in a community-based approach that nurtures self-efficacy and community involvement, allowing individuals to take control of their own health journeys and overcome significant challenges. Offering a wide and diverse range of services, training, advocacy, and resources to the Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey areas, MHP has emerged as a trailblazer in mental health services and comprehensive support. The Well and A New Life are recovery learning centers located in Philadelphia that connect participants to natural community support, provide one-on-one counseling, and offer recovery-oriented education classes. 

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern developed, integrated, and led participant group sessions on wellness. The intern educated participants on maintaining their health through exercises and educational sessions on the heart, brain, lungs, skin, and mouth. Taking part in group art and music sessions, the intern emphasized the importance of self-expression and individuality in art, encouraging participants to recognize their unique artistic voices. Fostering communication and engagement within the program, the intern planned and organized an inter-program event to promote mental well-being and familiarize participants with the amenities and resources that MHP has to offer.

 

Intern Reflections:

Margaux Games: “My BTG CHIP experience allowed me to build relationships within a community of people looking to better themselves and others. I witnessed the struggles participants went through and the injustices within healthcare. I gained valuable insight on how certain populations view the medical system and their providers with mistrust due to past experiences. I hope to integrate my knowledge of the barriers people face into my future role as a doctor. Further, I was able to relay the importance of self-care and expression through mediums such as art and music. I learned that while people may be initially scared to express themselves, they find joy in creating a finished project.” 

North Light Community Center

North Light Volunteers (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Jack Armstrong, Drexel University College of Medicine 

Lauren Carmody, Drexel University College of Medicine 

Tharun Nandakumar, Drexel University College of Medicine 

Kelsey Talarico, Drexel University College of Medicine 

 

Academic Preceptor:

Tariem Burroughs, PhD, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health 

 

Community Preceptors:

Wayne Ingram, North Light Community Center 

Krista Wieder, MBA, North Light Community Center 

 

Community Site:

Located in the heart of Manayunk, North Light Community Center serves the children, families, and residents of the greater Manayunk and Roxborough neighborhoods of Philadelphia. From offering a summer camp program for children to providing a space for distance learning during the pandemic, North Light is an instrumental resource for children in the area. North Light also serves as a food pantry and distributes food, household items, and essentials to those in need in the community.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked alongside staff in the summer day camp at North Light Community Center. They served as role models to children aged 5 to 12 and assisted with various camp activities, working to enhance reading skills, facilitate educational games, promote artistic creativity, encourage physical activity, and foster curiosity about the environment. In addition to supporting camp staff, the interns provided emotional support to the children and helped create a fun and safe environment for all campers.

 

Intern Reflections:

Jack Armstrong: “Volunteering at North Light taught me more about early childhood education and introduced me to a warm, tightly knit community. I gained a greater appreciation for the invaluable work that educators and childcare professionals do and was witness to significant resilience demonstrated by so many young children. Furthermore, I learned that there is still so much more work and resources that need to be devoted to children’s well-being in Philadelphia. I am very grateful for my experience at North Light, and I will always remember the community’s kind welcome and focus on their children.” 

  

Lauren Carmody: “Volunteering at North Light this summer gave me a deep sense of compassion for the kids I worked with. Alongside teaching and organizing play, I learned about their family lives and how North Light was a space of safety and community for them and their peers. The summer reignited my inner child and natural curiosity as we talked about many topics from first aid to engineering. Additionally, I practiced patience and learned problem-solving in our classroom. I enjoyed contributing to this community and am thankful to the kids and staff for being so welcoming.”

 

Tharun Nandakumar: “I have learned countless valuable lessons from working at North Light Community Center this summer. I gained a new appreciation for teachers working in communities like the diverse one seen in Manayunk, as each child comes from a unique background and situation at home. The various challenges we had to navigate — from the director of the camp quitting the day before it started to losing air conditioning for the entirety of the camp — have taught me how to adapt on the fly and remain resilient. Despite the challenges, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces made every minute working at North Light incredibly satisfying!”

 

Kelsey Talarico: “North Light Community Center has been a pillar of community strength and connection for generations. I am so grateful for the opportunity to become part of that community for the summer and to observe the love and care the campers and staff have for each other. Through this summer I have learned so much about the work and time devoted to developing North Light into a safe haven for children and adults. North Light is a place where everyone is accepted, and I will take away lessons of hope, resilience, and compassion.”

Northern Children's Services

Cultivating Wellness and Resilience Through Therapeutic Interventions in Children with Behavioral Challenges (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Amy DeAngelo, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Zach Kassutto, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Preceptors:

Dawn George, MS, PsyD, Northern Children’s Services

Kevin Weber, BA, Northern Children’s Services, the Wellness Program 

 

Community Site:

Northern Children’s Services is dedicated to supporting the healthy development of children and simultaneously strengthening families to build even stronger communities. The Wellness Program provides intensive and personalized services that seamlessly integrate therapeutic interventions and academic support, both after school and throughout the summer. The program is primarily designed for students referred due to behavioral challenges, which may manifest in multiple school suspensions, poor academic performance, impulsivity, and difficulty adhering to school structure and authority figures. Northern offers individual therapy and group therapy, social skills development, and tutoring, aiming to address these challenges effectively and promote positive outcomes for the students and their families.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern played a crucial role in facilitating recreational and therapeutic activities for the children in the Wellness Program. The intern participated in de-escalation techniques and fostered resiliency-building strategies and coping skills. The intern also actively participated in organizing and supervising various recreational day camp activities, including arts and crafts, music, gardening, sports, games, and more. The intern also offered valuable academic assistance in reading, writing, and math, reinforcing the children’s educational progress and confidence in their abilities.

 

Intern Reflections:

Amy DeAngelo: “I selected NCS as a site to immerse myself in a community I had not previously worked with and to explore my interest in behavioral and mental health support and services. Through my experiences, I gained a profound understanding of how social and environmental factors significantly influence children’s development and behavior. Collaborating with the therapists exposed me to invaluable coping skills and mindfulness practices that I aim to integrate as valuable resources for my patients. Interacting with the children and attentively listening and participating in their therapy sessions revealed to me the paramount importance of trust and support in creating a safe space for children to express their feelings openly. Additionally, tutoring the children further reinforced the value of meeting individuals where they are, while simultaneously fostering their confidence in their abilities both inside and outside the classroom. I am grateful for my experience at NCS and hope to incorporate all I have learned this summer to provide better care to my patients.”

Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Ambulatory Health Services 

Prescription Assistance Program Patient Advocates’ Experiences (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Dominic Hendrickson, Drexel University College of Medicine

Mekhala Santebennur, Drexel University College of Medicine

Shivashree Sekar, Drexel University College of Medicine

Caleb Smith, Drexel University College of Medicine

Sarah Taekman, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptors:

Barbara Hogan-Zarro, PhD, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions

Vincent Zarro, MD, PhD, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions

 

Community Preceptor:

Patrycja Dziekonska, MPH, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Ambulatory Health Services

 

Community Site:

The health centers of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health are strategically located to serve some of the most underserved populations throughout Philadelphia. Among their many offerings, the centers provide primary care, OB-GYN care, dental care, and social and legal services. The health centers accept patients with Medicare, Medicaid, and HMO plans as well as uninsured patients. Uninsured patients are charged small fees based on household size and income. The health centers’ Prescription Assistance Program helps patients who have no prescription coverage obtain medications for free through the assistance programs run by drug manufacturing companies.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked as patient advocates in the Prescription Assistance Program (PAP) at health centers throughout Philadelphia, helping uninsured and underinsured patients obtain their medications for free or at low cost. The interns guided patients through the application process and worked closely with prescription drug companies to ensure that applications were properly completed. Once patients were successfully enrolled, the interns were also responsible for making sure the patients obtained timely medication refills, so their regimens were not interrupted. The interns enlisted the help of interpreters and health center staff to ensure that patients felt welcome and heard.

 

Intern Reflections:

Dominic Hendrickson: “My time working in the Prescription Assistance Program (PAP) office at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has been an eye-opening experience. As a patient advocate, I have developed a better understanding of how the intersections of an individual’s identity impact their ability to engage with the healthcare system. As I move forward in my education and career, I aim to continue to carry these skills with me to better understand the people I serve and meet them on common ground. Building on this, at the health centers in which I operated, I witnessed the benefit of having an interdisciplinary model of care. Having access to dental care, legal counseling, medical care, benefit counseling, prescriptions, etc. under one roof works to actively eliminate barriers to care. This model of care is one I now know I want to push for throughout my time as a healthcare provider. Although this experience has been a great experience for my professional growth, it has also brought me lots of joy. Taking the time to get to know and interact with the patients I work with is something I look forward to each time I walk into my office. I have learned so much about how to best communicate with my patients, interpreters, pharmaceutical companies, and colleagues — skills not easily taught in the classroom. Overall, my experience in the PAP office has taught me so much about the health of the communities in the city of Philadelphia, and I look forward to continuing to engage with these communities. I also hope to continue the relationships I have developed with the staff at both Health Center 4 and 6 because I have grown to deeply admire the work they do.”

 

Mekhala Santebennur: “My time working at the Prescription Assistance Program (PAP) has truly been a rewarding experience. I have truly enjoyed working with patients and helping them in their time of need. The look of relief on their faces when I tell them they have been approved for a program, or that their medication has come in, is truly satisfying. Though the work is sometimes tedious and boring, it is still quite rewarding. I have also learned a lot about different types of medications. I believe that this will be useful going forward as a healthcare professional. I do not think I would have gotten such exposure if I had chosen to do anything else this summer. Overall, my favorite part of the job was just talking to the patients. Each person had a different life story and experience, and I truly enjoyed listening to everything they had to say.”

 

Shivashree Sekar: “I had a wonderful experience at the PAP office. I split my time between two different health centers and learned about how these centers operate (integrated medical, dental, family planning, prenatal, etc. services offered at one community center). I also learned about how the city operates with regards to hiring and implementing changes in health centers, including what’s working and what can be improved, through my storytelling project. Overall, my experience helped me learn about different resources in the community that I hadn’t heard about before. It encouraged me to take the time to educate myself on whatever resources are in the area where I’m working in in the future. I am also encouraged to really take the time to know and understand where my patient is coming from. Context is everything. It’s important to have everyone involved (e.g., social work, mental health, benefits counselor), because more likely than not, the patient’s issues are multifaceted, and my medical expertise isn’t sufficient on its own to help them.”

 

Caleb Smith: “My experience at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in the Prescription Assistance Program (PAP) office has been incredibly beneficial for my professional development. Advocates are necessary for connecting many of these patients with programs that provide reduced-cost medications that are typically inaccessible for patients to apply for on their own. It is invaluable to have advocates that understand the system and can explain complex applications and eligibility requirements to patients in need of life-saving medication. Additionally, I have been able to witness interdisciplinary care between medicine, dental, legal services, and benefits counseling. Centralizing these aspects of care increases their accessibility for community members and creates a seamless transition between visits for patients in need of multiple services. Furthermore, working with interpreters has shown me their value as vehicles of communication but also cultural liaisons for communities I do not routinely interact with. As a professional, I will keep these programs and benefits in mind when I serve patients with limited access to medications and advocate for services that enable better patient care, like in-person interpreters. In terms of personal growth, it has been incredibly rewarding to connect patients with prescription assistance services. Being able to witness the financial and emotional burden lifted off patients and families as they gain access to medications that help them lead a better, healthier lifestyle makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of others.”

 

Sarah Taekman: “My time working in the Prescription Assistance Program (PAP) has been, in one word, revealing: of the healthcare system, of pharmaceutical companies, of insurance, and of my own privilege. For uninsured patients living below the federal poverty line, paying for a necessary prescription becomes yet another stressor. I’ve felt lucky to have this opportunity to work one-on-one with patients, helping them navigate the process of program enrollment. These patients allowed me to learn about their lives, witness their frustration at the ever-changing program requirements, and share in their joy when our work finally grants them access to much-needed medications. The process of applying for programs is time-consuming, complex, and stressful. And because time is a scarce resource for both providers and patients alike, this experience has emphasized to me that it’s more important than ever to approach patient care as an interdisciplinary team. I hope to take my experience and new knowledge of PAP with me as a future healthcare provider, working with patients to help them access the resources they need.”

Programs Employing People

Movement Defies Limits (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Karenna Rae Versalovic, Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy

 

Academic Preceptor:

Esther Chernak, MD, MPH, Drexel University College of Medicine, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

 

Community Preceptors:

Diane Hardie, Programs Employing People

Heather Kuzowsky, Programs Employing People

 

Community Site:

Programs Employing People (PEP) is a nonprofit organization that was founded to give people with intellectual and physical disabilities access to social, vocational, educational, therapeutic, recreational, and employment possibilities. Disability is a term used when a person has certain limitations in mental or physical functioning and adaptive skills, such as information processing, communication, personal care, and social behaviors. The program matches individuals with activities and employment that fit their abilities, needs, and interests and works with them to create plans to help them meet their goals.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern assisted direct support staff in PEP’s senior and vocational programs and provided support for group activities. The intern planned and led two movement sessions each day (with the seniors in the morning and the vocational group in the afternoon), using musical instruments, a parachute, hula hoops, and balls. The intern worked to help the consumers grow their communication, cognitive, and body awareness skills throughout the group sessions and to communicate with each other through movement. The intern also led oral and heart health sessions and distributed oral health resources at the site.

 

Intern Reflections:

Karenna Rae Versalovic: “I am deeply inspired by my opportunity at PEP this summer to be a part of a community that celebrates and honors all ways of being. The staff and consumers made me feel welcome in their space. I used kinesthetic and sensory elements to work with the consumers and engage them in learning through the use of their bodies. Their enthusiasm, perseverance, and wisdom made the journey rewarding. While I hope the movement lessons helped them learn more tools to communicate nonverbally with each other, I know that I am taking so much away from slowing down this summer to meet each member where they are and work to see the world through their eyes. PEP brings a community of difference alive and honors unique ways of seeing the world.”

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children Center for Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs

Back-to-School Carnival (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Ethan Schollaert, Drexel University College of Medicine

Sarth Shah, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Angela Kim, MS, MD, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Preceptor:

Renee Turchi, MD, MPH, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Center for Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs

 

Community Site:

The Center for Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs is located within St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. It provides complete, coordinated, family-centered care in a single place.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on the Center for Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs Back-to-School Carnival, held each summer to provide families in the Philadelphia community with health resources and the children with backpacks filled with school supplies to help prepare them for the new academic year. In the past few years, the carnival has been held virtually due to COVID-19, but this year the carnival was held in person. To prepare for the backpack drive and carnival, the BTG interns aided in fundraising, planning, and ordering supplies. The interns’ main project was coordinating the vendors for entertainment, food, and desserts. In addition, the interns dedicated time toward organizing, preparing, and setting up for the event.

 

Intern Reflections:

Ethan Schollaert: “I will look back on my time spent at St. Chris this summer with nothing but fond memories. It was such a unique experience to be able to plan and coordinate this event. The community served by St. Chris is a type that I’m passionate about working with throughout my career in medicine, so the opportunity to interact with them outside of the typical hospital environment is something I’ll be forever grateful for. The excitement that you can see on the kids’ faces when they hear about the carnival and backpack drive is priceless. Realizing that, without events like this, those families may not have the capability to send their children to school with the everyday essentials is a difficult pill to swallow. I’ve long believed that early community involvement and engagement can help these kids reach their true height and support families in need. Going forward in my career, I hope to pioneer this type of event in any hospital/organization I work with and be a community leader passionate about supporting those who more than deserve it.”

 

Sarth Shah: “My time at St. Chris was one of the most fulfilling, rewarding, and educational roles I have ever held. Being responsible for organizing a large-scale community event certainly entailed enriching challenges, but seeing the smiles and laughter of the children from low-income families as they received free school supplies, food, and entertainment made it worthwhile. This project helped me realize the struggles faced by members of the community and understand that as a future physician and community leader, I have the power to enact change for the better. I feel privileged and honored to have served in this capacity at St. Chris, and I gained tremendous insight in how I can continue to serve my community throughout my career.”

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Center for the Urban Child 

Pediatric Navigation – Bridging the Gaps in Pediatric Primary Care & Patient Education (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Lauryn Bender, Drexel University College of Medicine

Serena Chang, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Angela Kim, MS, MD, FAAP, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Preceptors:

Renee Kottenhahn, MD, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Center for the Urban Child

Kathryn Stroup, MD, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Site:

The Center for the Urban Child (CUC) is an expansive outpatient facility on the St. Christopher’s campus. There, a multidisciplinary team cares for a large number of families who face complex challenges due to financial, social, educational, and cultural barriers to care.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked as pediatric navigators in the CUC, where they connected patients and families with resources, assisted with physicians’ workflows, and counseled families on the importance of reading and oral health. The interns implemented and refined existing gun safety screenings for better patient understanding and distributed free gun locks. The interns also researched available physical health resources via online and social media presence, through email, and through site visits. Finally, they developed tip sheets to hand out to families detailing these resources and helped update the Philadelphia CAP4Kids website (an online repository of free and low-cost child-rearing resources available across the greater Philadelphia area) to facilitate easier access to physical health resources.

 

Intern Reflections:

Lauryn Bender: “My summer as a pediatric navigator with BTG has been very rewarding. I gained a deeper appreciation for the interprofessional team made available to our patients. It helped open my eyes to how free legal aid and access to social workers or community health workers can legitimately affect patient health. Additionally, I was able to further develop and refine the skills I learned as a pediatric navigator previously, like promoting early literacy, encouraging good oral health practices, screening for gun safety, and connecting families to various socioeconomic resources. Before this summer, a gap was identified in the resources we had available in that physicians would recommend patients be active, but the family would not know how to pursue any physical health options. In finding appropriate physical health resources, I encountered many challenges, including high costs for quality programming, unclear and hard-to-navigate websites, lack of language accessibility for non-English speakers, and geographical gaps in program location making it harder to access. My main takeaway from this investigation is to be cognizant of the challenges my patients continually face so I can effectively provide care.”

 

Serena Chang: “Continuing my role of pediatric navigator for the summer as a BTG intern has fostered continual appreciation and understanding of the work that is done every day by providers, medical assistants, nurses, social work, legal aid, administrators, and the numerous individuals that help provide quality care to patients. My experiences in identifying resources that I can provide to patients in the clinic as well as our side project on researching physical health resources available within the community have been eye-opening regarding the inequities present in what we offer as a society. I have learned to be more cognizant of language barriers, more probing with questions to identify the source of issues or the answers that I need, and more critical about how we, as a hospital system, approach the business of healthcare. By working with so many different individuals both in the clinic and out in the community, I’ve developed better communication skills that will allow me to be the best clinician that I could be to address not only the medical needs but also the social needs of future patients.”

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Collaborative Primary Care Clinic (CPCC)

CPC Clinic / Interpreter (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Lorenzo E. Bosque, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Angela Kim, MS, MD, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Preceptors:

Emily Spengler, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Rita Guevara, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Site:

The Center for the Urban Child (CUC) and the Collaborative Primary Care clinic (CPC) serve to address the unmet needs of one of Philadelphia’s most underserved communities. They provide world-class health and preventive services to children in a low-income community and go above and beyond to provide additional resources to help close health gaps. The center has become a hub for families to receive healthcare, preventive services, walk-in sick clinics, wellness services, social services, and other support.

 

Project:

At the CUC/CPC clinic, the intern took on a dual role. First, the intern single-handedly developed and implemented a web-based welcome form and screener for patients to enhance communication between patients and physicians. It was designed to increase understanding of patient needs and improve the provision of timely assistance when required. It also created a comprehensive database from which to analyze the needs of the population served. The intern’s second role was to interpret for Spanish-speaking patients, facilitating effective communication with physicians and enabling active participation in their child's healthcare. The experience as an interpreter inspired the intern to create a children's book in Spanish to help Spanish-speaking children better comprehend and prepare for their visits to the doctor's office, ultimately improving their healthcare experience.

 

Intern Reflections:

Lorenzo E. Bosque: “During my time with BTG, I experienced a significant shift in my mentality and approach to patient care. While my academic courses and various programs had made me aware of the social determinants of health that profoundly impact our population, I was in the process of integrating this understanding into my decision-making and how I perceived those around me. It was a journey towards completeness, where the awareness was present, but not yet fully ingrained. However, BTG has transformed this awareness into an active and integral part of my thought process. Now, understanding the influence of social determinants of health has become second nature to me. It's no longer a conscious effort to include these factors in my assessments and interactions with patients. Instead, it has become a default setting in my being. I find myself naturally taking into account the broader context of a patient's life, recognizing how social factors intertwine with their health outcomes. As I progress in my career as a health professional, the transformation that occurred during my BTG experience will be an invaluable asset. This enhanced understanding will enable me to provide more comprehensive and compassionate care to my patients. BTG has instilled in me the importance of continuously engaging in self-reflection and ongoing learning.

Although it may not have been a core mission of BTG, the opportunity to work with children this summer had an extraordinary impact on me. Working with these young patients not only deepened my appreciation for the importance of addressing social determinants of health but also cemented in me the desire to pursue a career in pediatrics. Witnessing the resilience and vulnerability of children reminded me of the critical role I can play in shaping their health and the future of the communities I serve.

In conclusion, my time at BTG has been transformative, propelling me toward a deeper level of patient care and empathy. The lessons learned and the newfound mindset will undoubtedly shape my journey as a physician, guiding me to make a positive impact on the lives of those I encounter in my career.”

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, Summer Meals Program and Cap4Kids 

Summer Meals Program (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Nadim Amin, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

Angela Kim, MD, MS, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Preceptor:

Daniel Taylor, DO, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

 

Community Site:

St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children has been a leader in pediatric care since 1875. It offers nationally recognized programs and pediatric specialists who provide exceptional care to the greater Philadelphia community. The mission of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is to provide quality services in a caring, progressive environment. Following that mission, St. Christopher’s partners with Nutritional Development Services (NDS) of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. NDS has served the community’s food needs for over 45 years, partnering with both Catholic and non-Catholic programs to provide millions of meals each year to combat hunger in the community.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern focused on two main tasks: distributing meals through the Summer Meals Program and ensuring the quality of the CAP4Kids Philadelphia website. The Summer Meals Program’s goal is to distribute healthy lunches to children and teenagers in order to address the food insecurity that families can face when school lunches are unavailable. Each day 210 fresh meals were provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and distributed on the premises of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. CAP4Kids Philadelphia is an online repository of free and low-cost child-rearing resources available across the greater Philadelphia area. The intern’s task was to verify the accuracy of and update the entries on CAP4Kids.org and to generate handouts linked to the website.

 

Intern Reflections:

Nadim Amin: “Healthcare is a service best provided through trust, and helping patients in ways beyond what they traditionally associate with medicine is a great way to build that trust. My internship gave me the opportunity to practice speaking with patients and their parents, forming connections in spite of the barriers that might exist, such as language, culture, and age. Learning how to connect with a simple offer of a free meal and a smile is a small but impactful skill for becoming the kind of provider I would like to be. Moreover, working on CAP4Kids not only taught me the clinical value of compiling community resources, but gave me competency in finding resources across Philadelphia. I look forward to actually being able to provide patients with options and opportunities to meet their needs. After all, telling a patient they need to exercise more is not the same as providing a patient with affordable and accessible gym, rec center, and sports league options.”

Unitarian Universalist House, Outreach Program 

Supporting Older Adults Through Healthy Aging and Independent Living (click to view poster)

Student Intern:

Nina Silver, Drexel University College of Medicine

 

Academic Preceptor:

James Buehler, MD, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

 

Community Preceptors:

Sara Popkin, MSW, LSW, UUH Outreach Program

Kate Timer, MSW, UUH Outreach Program

 

Community Site:

UUH Outreach provides individualized quality professional care that is responsive to the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of older adults in the Northwest Philadelphia community. UUH Outreach provides a wide range of services, such as social work support, health promotion, and access to community funds to help older adults make ends meet. The staff nurse consults with clients to help them better understand their care plans and encourages healthy living. UUH Outreach partners with multiple community agencies to ensure that older adults in Northwest Philadelphia have access to as many resources as possible.

 

Project:

The Bridging the Gaps student intern’s primary role was to assist clients with decluttering their homes, assess community needs for the purpose of developing new programs, provide referrals to UUH staff who could assist clients with their needs, prepare and deliver a presentation for the community on oral health, and increase food access through the delivery of meals and helping clients sign up for fresh produce vouchers. The intern performed these duties via at-home client visits, making phone calls to clients, and compiling client resources. The intern also engaged with and learned about a variety of programs and funds accessible to older adults in Northwest Philly, including the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s emergency fund, multiple heat-relief programs that provide air-conditioning units to Philadelphians, and Center in the Park and its associated programs.

 

Intern Reflections:

Nina Silver: “UUH Outreach’s staff and their commitment to the betterment of their clients’ lives was inspiring, and I was grateful to be able to assist these wonderful people in helping our elder community members. UUH Outreach gave me a better understanding of the world of social work, especially in-field social work, which I had had little experience with prior to the program. Every day I was impressed at how many people throughout Philadelphia were devoted to improving the lives of others. Each one of the agencies I worked with is now a resource I can provide to future clients or patients. Additionally, I further developed my skills in interacting with clients, which in turn boosted my confidence. My experience at UUH Outreach has no doubt played a pivotal role in my development as a physician, as it has helped me to better understand the social influences of health.”

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