A Summer of Learning and Healing for Pre-Med Students
She walked through the hospital hallways with conflicted emotions from the news about one of her patients. Although she was relieved that her patient gave birth without complications, she was concerned about the 19-year-old, unwed girl, now a mother of triplets, and the obstacles ahead of her.
"These types of situations aren't very unusual for many women in high-risk areas," says Vikki Mango, a fourth-year Haverford student.
Mango worked with more than 60 pregnant women and new mothers during a summer internship with the Maternity Care Coalition outside of Philadelphia.
However, she wasn't the only Haverford student with an internship in a medical setting this summer. Thanks to funding from the Arronson Foundation, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia, nine of the college's pre-med students enjoyed hands-on opportunities in hospitals, clinics and other health care programs.
Since 1996 the Arronson Foundation has provided financial support for Haverford pre-med students who want to acquire experience in rural or urban health care. Over the past three years, 21 Haverford students have spent their summers in numerous medical settings throughout the U.S.
"These internships give students a chance to work in a medical field and, at the same time, help an underserved population," says Jenette Wheeler, Haverford's pre-med advisor. "This kind of experience leads to more empathetic, caring future physicians."
As an intern with the Maternity Care Coalition's "MOMobile" program, Vikki Mango participated in an outreach effort to improve maternal and child health in high-risk communities. The program provides a wide array of information and services, such as health insurance assistance, monitoring of doctors appointments and lessons on HIV prevention, child safety and nutrition.
Mango became interested in the internship after taking a course involving a group project on the racial and socio-economic differences in maternal and infant mortality rates.
The "MOMobile" program is a long-term support network on wheels for many women. Its bright yellow vans staffed by nurses, social workers or nurses-in-training bring maternal and child care education into the homes of pregnant women and new mothers.
While Vikki Mango addressed the medical needs of an urban community, Lisa Nutting'00 spent the summer learning about the struggles of migrant workers in the farming community of Kennett Square, Pa. Working at Project Salud, a clinic for the area's Latino population, Nutting developed a diabetes education program for the community and mentored three teenagers about effective outreach strategies.
Funding from the Arronson Foundation allowed fourth-year student Patricia Kinser to work at Planned Parenthood in Richmond, Va. this summer. According to Kinser, unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS infections are two of the major issues plaguing Richmond's inner-city. Her internship centered on educating the community, especially area teenagers, about responsible human sexuality.
After just one session of "Straight Talk," a six-part program for youths in juvenile correctional facilities and group homes, Kinser said that she felt a sense of accomplishment. "Knowing that these young people were equipped with the knowledge to protect themselves from some future problems meant a lot to me," says Kinser, who wants to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner in women's health.
Other Haverford pre-med students had similar Arronson internship experiences in different areas of the country. Fourth-year student Alyssa Flanagan participated in Project Health Care at New York City's Bellevue Hospital. Pooja Rao'01 worked for the Maternal Infant Outreach Program, an attempt to reduce the rates of premature births and infant mortalities in Hartford, Conn. Senior Jamel Velji spent a few weeks with Sacramento's Clinica Tepati, which tries to meet the health needs of Sacramento's urban, Spanish-speaking population.