Class Of 2024
Intern, Department of Risk Management: Cibola General Hospital, Grants, New Mexico
Briefly describe what you did for your Applied Experience and any highlights.
This summer I worked as an intern in the Department of Risk Management at a critical-care hospital in rural New Mexico. I developed a patient safety project that informed patients about fall risks and assisted in ensuring positive health outcomes were maximized in the healthcare facility.
My project focused on creating a medical trifold brochure to address national and state patient-fall prevalence. I researched factors that lead to patient falls (i.e., lower body weakness; having history of prior falls; and age-related changes in vision, hearing, mobility, and balance), which assisted in expanding the fall prevention program that my organization had in place.
The finalized brochure will be included in patient admission and discharge folders for reference either during an inpatient stay or after the patient has returned home and is on their journey to recovery!
How has your experience informed your understanding of public health?
My applied experience allowed me to use my “formal” education to help expand an already successful prevention program and spend time learning about the administrative side of healthcare. Specifically, safety initiatives, like the one I worked on, serve to maximize community health and eliminate health disparities — both of which are important topics in public health curriculum. This includes prevention strategies, intervention techniques, and providing education (whether formal or informal). My focus was health management and education where I reviewed existing safety policies enforced at the hospital, described what is expected of safety protocols, and promoted direct facility-to-patient communication to reduce potential negative health-related consequences of patient falls.
Since patient falls are a public health problem that disproportionately affects older adults and rural families, my organization wanted to do their part in improving patient safety (especially in inpatient settings). Fall related injuries, like hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries, not only can lead to long-term injury, (re)-hospitalization, and chronic pain, but also can lead to death. This pressing issue requires urgent action like expanding evidence-based fall prevention programs, ensuring multitiered risk assessment tools are available to rural healthcare facilities, increasing patient-centered care, and prioritizing patients’ health by assembling a comprehensive healthcare team.
During my time at the organization, most notably, I became part of the team in my local healthcare system — a team where valuing community partnership and prioritizing quality healthcare always comes first.