Helloooo from New York! I’m living with my best friend from high school in Williamsburg, the land of thrifting and overpriced juice. I find myself falling in love with this dynamic city. A native Bay area kid, the diversity bar has always been high. However in New York, Queens is the most diverse district in the country and my own Brooklyn apartment is situated between a huge Caribbean/Latino community and Orthodox Jews. I run a small foodstagram and needless to say, my feed is filled with a variety of cuisines. This week I encountered delicacies ranging from rose shaped gelato to Levain’s cookies to Rainbow bagels to Cauliflower Panko Soft Tacos.
I am two weeks into my internship at the Rogosin Institute and my experiences thus far have been so rich. Rogosin’s mission is to provide the highest quality, compassionate clinical care for people with kidney and other chronic diseases through a multifaceted, integrative approach that combines such care with basic and clinical research; outcomes research and policy recommendations; community outreach, education and mobilization and new models for the improvement of US health care-design and implementation/testing. I am blown away by the opportunities I have to learn in several different public health sectors.
My schedule is packed and each day is so different from the next. Since Rogosin has 8 dialysis centers in the New York area, I have been all over Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. We’ve talked a lot about the social determinants of health and how our intersectional identities impact working with different communities. The environment here is extremely collaborative and I am exposed to a range of settings: from professional meetings with health care providers and researchers to community health worker trainings on kidney health to a Brooklyn community meeting in diner. I truly feel I am at the intersection of community engagement and healthcare.
Generally (I say generally because there is no hard and fast schedule for this type of work) I work in the IT department Tuesdays and Thursdays and am at the Center for Health Action and Policy (CHAP) offices on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I am helping to develop an educational ebook to be distributed on our iPads. These iPads are given to dialysis patients during treatment to improve their experience and provide interactive educational materials, music, mindfulness apps, nutrition guides, and even a “distractions folder” with games like Sudoku and adult coloring books. I am also working on my own initiative: Mindfulness Mondays. My goal is that all Rogosin dialysis centers will provide a small Mindfulness Station with materials in the patient waiting room that can be used at all times. Materials may include an iPad that allows clients to use the apps and recordings at their own leisure, physical coloring books, and infographics for patients to take home and explore. Every Monday there will be a volunteer facilitator who leads a special activity. Rogosin staff is also encouraged to participate. Finally, I am also their photographer for events and am helping with social media (what else are millennials good for?).
Something I was immediately drawn to was Dr. Dan Levine’s (my boss in the IT office) recent project. He spearheaded the creation of a new computer lab at The Kensington Family Shelter, which will give homeless children and teens the technological tools to complete homework assignments and enable parents to create resumes and conduct online job searches. Rogosin donated 21 Apple Mac computers and a printer, while also providing technical assistance to set up the lab and train CAMBA staff members to manage it. This model will be used for other healthcare institutes in New York to donate their old computers (which would otherwise have gone to waste). Talk about trash to treasure!
If there is anything I have learned in the process of securing this internship and different grants to fund my living and travel expenses it’s this: the worst thing they can say is no. In December 2015 I reached out to Pamela Hoyt-Hudson as I was drawn to Rogosin’s mission and public health vision. We corresponded via email and we arranged for an informal phone interview that lasted half an hour. The second round of interviews were arranged to be in New York on Friday, January 29th. Pam suggested I read Dr. Smith’s book, Problem Solving for Better Health: A Global Perspective, in preparation. The book blew me away. For all my public health friends out there, read this book! It’s described as the book that, “covers human potential and possibilities for change in a global environment where health issues have now reached crisis proportions. This book presents innovative methodologies that promote grass-roots solutions to pressing health issues. A progress report and call to further action, the book speaks to such issues in 27 countries, including the United States.” Anyway, I had a 6-hour block of back-to-back interviews with three departments at Rogosin Institute. I met with the Center for Health Action and Policy at 1pm, Human Resources at 3pm, and Dr. Barry Smith at 5pm. I was offered a position on February 25th and officially accepted the position on February 25th. Though there was no intern program, I was able to secure a paid opportunity by showing my initiative and willingness to learn.
This summer I wanted to work within an organization that encourages sustainability and utilizes best practices for healthcare systems and access. Along the way, I also seek to find what working environments I am best suited for and begin building a network of public health professionals in my field.