Whitehead Internship Reflection

Claude WangSummer Healthcare Quality Improvement Intern

September 27, 2022

This summer, I was able to join the Health Care Improvement Foundation for 8 weeks as an intern through the Whitehead Internship program. As someone who comes from a life sciences and engineering background, I want to work in a field where I can utilize the analytical and problem-solving skills I have developed, while also working directly with people to create an impact. Interning at the Health Care Improvement Foundation creates the perfect opportunity for me to hone these skills in a professional setting while creating tangible impact with the team. 

During this internship, I was able to work on three projects within the Partnership for Patient Care program. There are multiple focuses within this program, and I was able to work on the Health Equity Data Strategy, the Delaware Valley Patient Safety and Quality Awards, as well as supporting the planning for the annual PPC Leadership Summit. Although I was staffed primarily on the PPC program, I also joined the ARC (Anti-Racism Collaborative), The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania Racial Health Equity Learning Action Network (HAP RHELAN), as well as marketing meetings. As someone interested in project management work, I was impressed by the passion and the careful planning involved in the facilitation of these initiatives. These meetings with the HCIF team and the external stakeholders definitely demonstrates the nature of HCIF’s work: fostering collaborations and strengthening connections among stakeholders to improve health care quality and safety.

Apart from the fascinating work the team is doing, what also really stood out to me is the supportive and collegial culture of HCIF. Throughout my internship, I have received so much support and care from everyone, and they genuinely took an interest in my development and future career path. I can say with confidence that HCIF values everyone’s opinions on the team, and takes everyone’s suggestions into consideration. During the internal meetings, I was able to contribute to the anti-racism statement for HCIF, advice for COVID concerns for the in person HCIF events and also advocate for the inclusion of LGBTQ resources for our projects. I am extremely grateful to be in such an inclusive environment at an early stage of my professional life. 

Overall, being at HCIF this summer has brought me closer to the inner workings of the health care field and exposed me to how different stakeholders collaborate to constantly improve care quality for the patients. I felt that I was contributing to a meaningful cause, and I was extremely fortunate to be around a group of people who are willing to mentor and inspire. I really enjoyed this internship experience and would like to thank CCPA, the Whitehead Internship Program, Liz Owens, and the rest of the HCIF team for making this possible. 

Welcome HCIF’s Summer Healthcare Quality Improvement Intern, Claude Wang!

June 28, 2022

Claude Wang, a rising senior at Haverford College and a Master’s student at UPenn, has joined HCIF’s Clinical Improvement team to serve as the Healthcare Quality Improvement Intern through the Whitehead Internship Program over the summer. Claude is a Chemistry major and Japanese minor, and at the same time they are also pursuing a Master’s degree in Bioengineering. Their previous internship experience includes interning at a private equity firm in Philadelphia researching climate technology and organic waste verticals; they also worked in Haverford Admissions Office as an Access and Diversity Intern for 3 years.

With interests in social justice and the US healthcare system, Claude hopes to gain in depth knowledge on stakeholder collaboration and the effective tools to combat existing problems. During their internship, they will be primarily responsible for supporting this year’s Delaware Valley Patient Safety and Quality Award program and supporting the second year launch for the Health Equity Data Strategy project. Claude is excited to learn more about project management, hone their communication skills and work closely with the rest of the HCIF team.

Welcome HCIF’s Health Literacy Intern, Christina Gareis!

January 14, 2022

HCIF would like to welcome our newest intern Christina Gareis, MS! Christina will support HCIF’s statewide health literacy initiatives in 2022. She received her Master’s in Science from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Health at Thomas Jefferson University’s College of Population Health. Her public health interests include policy and advocacy, health literacy, and program planning. Christina previously worked on an international initiative related to menstrual health and hygiene. This work pushed her to develop culturally and linguistically appropriate education and solutions for women and girls in historically underserved communities. A fun fact about Christina is that she is a dual citizen of the US and Italy. Christina’s career goals include obtaining a doctorate in Public Health and working within the federal government to improve the nation’s health. 

The Pennsylvania Health Literacy Coalition, led by HCIF and Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania (HCWP), are thrilled to have Christina join us as we work to establish a culture of health literacy and equity throughout the Commonwealth.

Whitehead Internship Reflection

Katie Hughes, Summer Healthcare Quality Data Analyst Intern

July 27, 2021

I had the good fortune of joining HCIF through Haverford College’s Whitehead Internship Program. As I was applying to different summer programs, HCIF stuck out to me – its mission aligns closely with my interests in public health and process improvement.  My experience has exceeded my expectations.

HCIF is broken up into two divisions, one team serves projects having to do with Population and Community Health, and the other, the team I joined this summer, focuses on Clinical Quality and Patient Safety Improvements. It is a small organization, with around 10 full time staff members. Given this small size, I found it relatively easy to get acquainted with the different personalities and projects. This process was made even easier through the welcoming and supportive culture that came through, even in an entirely remote environment. I worked primarily on two projects, the Health Equity Data Strategy Collaborative (HEDS) and the Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC), I also sat in on the Anti-Racism Council and the Marketing team meetings and assisted with a few Partnership for Patient Care initiatives.

I consider the highlight of my time at HCIF to be my involvement with HEDS. This initiative really kicked-off during June, so I was privy to many of the early conversations and decisions being made about the direction of the program. I got to see first-hand how a collaborative decision-making process can produce polished, thoughtful outcomes. This initiative focuses on the collection and use of race and language data as a necessary step towards identifying and remedying disparities in healthcare outcomes. I particularly enjoyed attending larger meetings that convened healthcare workers at regional hospitals to discuss this project and the topic of health equity – I was enlightened by the nuance of the conversation and felt inspired by the eagerness and urgency with which they spoke about the issue.  

The other project I got to work on, PURC, aims to improve outcomes in treatment and diagnosis for men facing prostate cancer. My work primarily involved quality assurances of different reports and I was able to attend several meetings between physician participants in the collaborative. In the more data forward component of my internship, I got to troubleshoot the formatting in different excel documents and I enjoyed trying to make improvements that made them more functional. Again, I was heartened to see the enthusiasm and care with which these professionals took to their quality improvement initiatives.

While I was fascinated with the projects I got to work on, the thing that left the biggest impression on me was the culture of the organization. My coworkers demonstrated sincere interest in each other’s lives, and feedback was given kindly but authentically.  Our meetings often began with a “color check” where everyone on the call would select a color that best described their workload and emotional outlook for the week. This encouraged truthful reflection – there was no pressure to indicate that “everything was fine” and people often shared when they were having an overwhelming week or when they I had capacity to be helpful to those in need. I especially appreciated the intentional efforts each team member made to give credit when it was due. I always felt free to speak up and when I did, I felt that my contributions were thoughtfully considered and valued. I owe a specific debt of gratitude to Liz Owens. She is a project manager on the Clinical Improvement Team and the individual with whom I worked most closely. During our weekly one on ones, Liz showed me immense patience as I got my bearings within the organization and set me up with interesting and meaningful work.  I am very grateful for my time at HCIF and feel that it has equipped me with a greater understanding of working in a team and of the public health space more generally.

Welcome HCIF’s Health Communications Specialist Intern, Sami Hamed!

June 23, 2021

Sami Hamed has joined HCIF for the summer to serve as a Health Communications Specialist Intern. Sami has just finished his first year as an MPH student at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, where he majors in Epidemiology. Prior to starting graduate school, he completed dual bachelor degrees in Biology and English at Connecticut College and spent several years doing editorial and publication work in the medical communications industry. 

Sami has a strong interest in health communication and the processes and strategies by which important healthcare and public health information can be made accessible to a variety of audiences. He will be working with the Communications and Marketing Committee and team members throughout HCIF to carry out research evaluating effective health communication strategies of similar organizations, assess the efficacy of HCIF’s current communication strategies, and identify areas that can be improved by implementing proven best practices for health communication. He will also be helping to draft online content for a number of programs and health observances relevant to HCIF’s work in the region.