Summer Centered: Benjamin Frost ’19 Gets a Head Start in Healthcare
Thanks to funding from the Primary Care Pre-Medical Internship Program, the chemistry major is shadowing healthcare providers in his hometown of Oconomowoc, Wisc., this summer.
For going on four years now, chemistry major Benjamin Frost ’19 hasn’t known a workplace other than Haverford Professor Karin Åkerfeldt’s lab.
“I have been a student research assistant there ever since my first semester at Haverford,” he says.
This summer, however, Frost took on a new challenge. A Primary Care Pre-Medical Internship Program-funded intern for the Lake Area Free Clinic (LAFC), a charitable medical center based in Oconomowoc, Wisc., he shadowed healthcare providers as they examined patients, provided diagnoses, and prescribed medications—mostly to a community of “individuals and families who cannot afford the premiums of health insurance.” Frost, a native of Oconomowoc, knows the LAFC well—and his familiarity with the organization, and faith in its mission, is precisely what convinced him to pursue working there.
“I believe in the work the clinic does,” Frost says, “and was excited by the chance to have an impact on the lives of people in the community I grew up in.”
From a practical perspective, however, Frost’s time at the LAFC is also serving another purpose: he has his sights set on a career in hematology, and clinical experience is an invaluable commodity.
“Currently, I plan on attending medical school to either pursue an M.D. or M.D./Ph.D.,” he says. “Regardless of the field of medicine I eventually pursue, my time at the clinic has shown me the importance of volunteer-driven healthcare for people without health insurance.”
And Frost is certainly putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to that statement. When not shadowing the clinic’s doctors and nurses, he devotes the majority of his time to projects “with a major public-health focus,” which include “the development of a patient-resource center that provides information on local services available to people who are low-income.” It’s a passion that has evolved over the course of Frost’s time at Haverford, largely as the result of two courses on medical anthropology he took during his sophomore year.
“Both courses included discussions regarding the relationship between people and biomedical professionals [and] establishments,” Frost says. “We identified how dissonance between a patient's culture and the dominant culture within biomedicine can compromise care. Most of the scenarios considered in these courses were removed from my life experiences, such as the tension between a Hmong community and local hospital outside of San Francisco. While these examples were excellent for generating discourse, they remained partially abstract to me because of the separation from my life.”
With this internship, he’s laid that abstraction to rest.
“The exciting thing about this internship is that I get to see some of the factors impacting people's access to care in my immediate community,” he says. “Through this experience, I hope to gain awareness of these factors so that I can provide better care if I do become a physician.”
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.