This past semester, along with the minor life crisis of realizing I had 4 months before I was halfway done with college, came the challenge of figuring out what to do with my summer. It seemed that most of my peers had figured out a plan, but I was left in a limbo of figuring out whether I wanted to intern or volunteer, do research or be a camp counselor. Luckily, after a myriad of applications and interviews, I was given the opportunity to intern with Health Leads right here in Baltimore.
This was a win-win for me, because I love Baltimore in the summer. There’s more time to explore and appreciate the city’s character (hit up JHU_Genevieve’s blog to hear about one of Charm City’s most recent events), and I couldn’t be happier to get to work with an organization like Health Leads. As its mission, Health Leads believes that good health is more than just physical health. The organization works towards attaining a healthcare system that addresses the social needs of patients in creating a better quality of life. In other words, as advocates, we sit with patients and connect them with resources in their community for things they need assistance with, ranging from things like food stamps to getting a GED. The organization currently has 5 locations: the Bay Area, Chicago, New York, New England, and our very own Mid-Atlantic Region. On Hopkins’ campus itself, we have three separate desks that are aimed towards helping different populations of the city.
This summer, I’ve been placed at the desk in the Children’s Medical Practice at the Hopkins Bayview Campus, and this desk deals primarily with the Latino population in Baltimore. This means that the majority of our clients’ first language is Spanish. So in addition to learning about the healthcare and government system from a different angle, I have the amazing opportunity to develop professional skills in both English and Spanish. It’s been three weeks on the job, and it’s been a wonderful experience. To see just how large a language barrier can be is eye opening, and it’s so rewarding to be able to help these families have a voice when they’re going through a tough time.
The job can also be extremely challenging. We’re thrown right in, and while we have a thorough list of resources available to use, we still have to learn to navigate the system. We need to make sure we are representing and advocating for our patients to the best of our ability, and that requires a strong support system to rely on when we get stuck. So far, I have Health Leads to thank for teaching me about different perspectives, helping me develop communication skills, and giving me a great new group of friends (special s/o to CMP summa desk). I’m loving every minute of my time with Health Leads, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the summer, and maybe even into the school year.
If you’re interested in checking out the organization, feel free to visit the website for more information.