Since 2008, CHCI and the United Health Foundation have partnered to award over 175 scholarships to students from across the U.S. pursuing a primary health care professional career. The scholar-intern program, started in the second year of the partnership, has allowed scholars the opportunity to complete a paid internship in their community. The scholarship and stipend create a unique opportunity for financially needy students to take on what would otherwise be an unpaid internship, and exposes them to the health care needs of underserved communities.
CHCI-United Health Foundation Scholar-Interns identify a community-based health organization where they can complete the internship. Upon completion of 80 hours of work, they receive an additional $1,000. This year, scholars are completing internship placements at 29 organizations across the country, including the Varadero Medical Center in Miami, Florida. During his internship there, CHCI-UHF Scholar Bryan Diaz, a rising senior at Florida International University, had the opportunity to shadow doctors, learn to take vitals, and spend time with patients. “Being part of the CHCI-UHF scholar intern program has been one of the most amazing and life changing things that has happened to me,” says Bryan. “This internship made me realize and reassured my passion for the medical field. I was able to spend a lot of hands on-time with patients and really get to understand what they feel when they go see a physician.”
Rita Rodriguez, a rising junior at Abilene Christian University, also felt the experience reaffirmed her interest in being a doctor. At the Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene, Texas, Rita worked in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, assisting with patient care, documenting patients as they entered the unit from surgery, and observing and discussing a plan of care for patients with nurses and surgeons. “This internship not only motivated me to find a great place to intern, but supported me financially that helped my family,” she says. “I feel more prepared entering health-care environments with the hands-on experience I gained through my internship. I learned the day-to-day work ethic needed by each health-care professional in a hospital. Overall, I appreciate much more every part of my ambition to work in the medical field.”
In addition to having the chance to complete a community-based internship, CHCI-United Health Foundation Scholars have a unique opportunity to join in the United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Forum. Held June 5-8, 2016 in Washington, D.C., the Diverse Scholars Forum brought together undergraduate, graduate and doctorate-level scholarship recipients from across the nation. Scholars met with policymakers and thought leaders to discuss the nation’s most pressing health issues, networked with peers and special guests, and engaged in interactive dialogue to share their own ideas and experiences. 18 CHCI scholars were part of the group, which included scholars from all nine of United Health Foundation’s partners for the Diverse Scholar’s Initiative. Scholars had the chance to hear from dynamic speakers like Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Founder and President of Give an Hour, as well as engage with policy makers like Rep. David Scott (GA) and Rep. Pete Sessions (TX). Scholars also engaged with a variety of leaders from within the Foundation, the United Health Group, and Optum. The Forum provided a wonderful opportunity to connect their academic experiences and training with the policy work that takes place every day in Washington.
CHCI is grateful to the United Health Foundation for their support and looks forward to our continued work together as we develop the next generation of Latino leaders!