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The personal touch

An internship with hospitalized elders advances nursing experiences for Katie Eipert '21

After being hospitalized multiple times a year as a child, Katie Eipert '21 knows how important nurses are to patient care.

"I realized how comforting it can be to have people who come in and look at you as a person," says Eipert.

The nursing major brings that perspective to her summer internship with elders receiving inpatient care at Highland Hospital in Rochester. Her responsibilities include helping reduce delirium by engaging the patients in conversation about their lives or in diversion activities such as trivia games or a visit to the healing garden.

Eipert enjoys hearing patients' stories about their World War II or Vietnam War service or other aspects of their lives — and she sees them brighten at her interest. "They're very appreciative of even just 5 minutes of your time to talk to them," she says.

In turn, she says she receives multiple benefits from her internship:

  • Working first-hand with elders affirms that she'd enjoy a career in geriatrics
  • The experience increased her confidence in her role as a health care professional — "Just knocking on a door and walking into a patient's room in the hospital is something that took a bit to get used to"
  • Reading about patients' diagnoses and then spending time with them one-on-one gives her new associations between conditions and symptoms
  • Detailing what she does, the patient's mood, and other details helps prepare her for required health care documenting in patient charts
  • Being immersed in a hospital provides practice using the appropriate lingo and abbreviations when communicating with nurses and patient care technicians

Eipert heard about this internship from her career coach in Nazareth's Center for Life's Work, who spread the word to nursing majors and alerted them that a Nazareth SPARK Grant could pay them $1,500 and cover the cost of the internship credit(s). For students from outside the Rochester area, SPARK also can provide low-cost summer housing on campus.

Eipert was only in her first year of college but jumped at the opportunity. "It's beneficial to start to develop a resume," she says. "That can set you apart."

The experience has been so positive that even after she completed the required hours, she asked to stay on for extra time through the summer — which her supervisor was happy to arrange. And just as she at first shadowed someone else, Eipert has shown other student interns the ropes.

The work is rewarding, she says. "It just makes you feel good when you're told by a patient, a patient's family, or the nurses that you've made a difference in these people's lives. It's a genuine thank you."