Harvard Club of Naples Community Service Fellowships & Internships
2016 Winter Internships Report
Rebecca Lambert, Chair
The Harvard Club of Naples began sponsoring internships for current Harvard students from Collier County with local not for profit groups in 2008. In 2014 when Harvard College initiated its Winter Term, HCN also offered “Winternships”. A total of 18 different students have benefited from the HCN internship program and a total of $69,258 has been dispersed. And students were pleased to learn that the Harvard Club of Naples generously increased the stipend from $12/hour to $15/hour this year.
This past winter break three students participated in the Winternship program. Two students worked at the Bonita Eye Clinic and one at the Naples Botanical Garden. Sophomore Julia Reed-Betts worked for the fourth time at Bonita Springs Lions Eye Clinic and first year student Sydney Record for the second time. This was Junior Nikki Kallenberg’s third time participating in the HCN internship program. In 2014 she worked at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. In 2015 she worked at the Healthcare Network of SWFL. And this winter she spent her break working at Naples Botanical Garden.
We consistently receive positive feedback from the non- profit agencies as well as our local Harvard students. The Harvard Club of Naples internship is a valuable program benefitting our students and our community. Programs like this improve the quality of life for of our students by giving them paid work experience, benefit our community, and will hopefully foster loyalty to Harvard and the alumni program.
The Bonita Springs Eye Clinic is a wonderful system of volunteers and doctors who provide health care to uninsured people of SouthWest Florida. It is always a pleasure working with this group of people to better our community. Each year I learn a new technique at the clinic and meet new patients whose stories are immensely humbling and, to me, the best part of the position. To know that my small help as an intern makes a difference in the vision of people in my home community truly makes this experience continually rewarding. This past winter, I was able to learn how to read glasses, learn how to refract patients, and had a greater opportunity to work with the doctors as a scribe. In addition, I taught two new volunteers of various ages how the medical information system at our clinic operates, as well as performing the visual acuity tests and communicating with patient to fill our their profile. The two volunteers are of vastly different ages and therefore learn at different speeds. It was exciting to tailor my teaching to fit both of their learning strategies and increase the efficiency of the clinic.
I am so thankful to the Harvard Club of Naples for offering this amazing winternship opportunity.
This internship was my second opportunity to work at the Bonita Springs Lions Eye Clinic. Like over the summer, I had the opportunity to shadow Dr. Freedman of the Naples Harvard Club. Because he traveled out of town, I also shadowed three other doctors, Dr. Slattery, Dr. Martin, and Dr. Shapiro. This experience differed greatly from my time at the clinic over the summer. It was another learning opportunity and for that I am grateful.
The first doctor I shadowed was Dr. Freedman, who takes immense care to communicate clearly with his patients as well as to ensure that I am benefitting intellectually from my internship. Like during the summer, an important theme was empathy. Instead of rushing through his appointments, Dr. Freedman took the time to talk to each of his patients, making them as comfortable as possible. He also discussed the importance of doctors having kind dispositions. The reason that this is so important is that two primary concerns of patients concerning their doctors are: kindness and ability. A patient can tell if his or her doctor is nice within minutes of meeting him or her, so doctors must ensure that their kind attitudes put patients at ease. Of course, skill is also essential and must be acquired through copious education and training.
After shadowing Dr. Freedman, I shadowed Dr. Slattery. From this experience, I learned much about medical record keeping. I “scribed” for Dr. Slattery, typing the patient information into the online portal. While the clinic does not always have the resources to have someone typing for the doctors, this improves the patient experience. Dr. Freedman and I discussed this issue when I was working with him: recording medical information requires doctors to turn away from their patients. This reduces doctor-patient communication and takes the doctor’s attention away from the patient. While medical records are extremely important and there is no easy solution to this problem, especially when no one is available to type for the doctors, the system should be improved in order to maximize positive interaction between doctors and patients.
The third doctor I shadowed was Dr. Martin. He took the time to get to know his patients, listening to what they had to say before he began to ask them questions. Often, the information they were sharing had little or nothing to do with their eye health, but ensuring that each patient feels heard is imperative in ensuring he or she is comfortable. This helped to reinforce the concept that caring for the patient as a person is just as important as treating his or her symptoms.
Finally, the last doctor I shadowed in my internship was Dr. Shapiro. Like Dr. Freedman, Dr. Shapiro made patient care his priority but also ensured that I learned much through my experience. For example, he showed the importance of treating patients and their families with respect, even in difficult circumstances. For instance, one patient was unable to communicate with any staff in English or Spanish. So, her husband communicated with her and then communicated with a volunteer in Spanish. This volunteer then transmitted the message to Dr. Shapiro. Throughout the difficult and confusing experience, Dr. Shapiro kept his focus on providing the patient with the best care possible. Not only was he able to reach a conclusion that allowed him to prescribe medication that would improve the patient’s symptoms, but he also maintained a kind and respectful disposition. It turned out that the patient had a potential infection in her eye, possibly fungal, and that the equipment used on her needed to be handled more carefully and more thoroughly sanitized. Dr. Shapiro waited until the she had left to go about cleaning the equipment; he ensured that she did not feel like a pariah, putting the patient’s comfort above his own.
I am extremely grateful for this internship and incredible learning experience. I am also thankful to all four doctors who took time out of their busy schedule of patients to contribute to my education. I have further seen the immense impact on patient care of empathy and respect.
Over my 2016-17 winter break, I had the pleasure of volunteering at a local nonprofit: the Naples Botanical Garden. With the help of the Harvard Club of Naples, I was able to further explore my interests in botany during my six weeks at home. As a junior preparing to declare my minor, the Harvard Club of Naples allowed me to venture outside of my typical coursework to experience hands on field work. My time at the Garden was broken down into three divisions: the Children's Garden, the Herbarium, and Night Lights.
The Children's Garden offered a wealth of information on Florida's seven different ecosystems, native butterflies and their life cycle, and proper techniques for growing vegetation. Throughout my time there, I was able to pass my knowledge to both children and adults alike about specific plants and insects found in the garden, and how they contributed to the overall ecological success within their environment. By the end of the internship, I was able to identify and extract those species that harm native Florida wildlife.
Alongside the Children's Garden, I was also fortunate enough to work with botanist George Wilder in a Herbarium. George has compiled a collection of 40,000 various plant species found all around the country. My role was to assist him in organizing his collection as he explained the methods he used to both obtain and identify his specimens. I came away from this experience with a fuller understanding of how plant species are interrelated, both in their classification and ecological niche.
During Night Lights, a time when the Garden is open to the public at night, I was assigned to different stations around the park, becoming familiar with the flora of Asian, Caribbean, and Brazilian environments. I then had the chance to synthesize all the information I gathered from other areas of work in order to educate the public. In conclusion, I am thankful to the Harvard Club of Naples for awarding me with such an enriching internship experience