Intern name: Hannah Skochenski
Major(s)/Minor(s): Integrative Science
Title of internship/fellowship, etc.: Intern
Place of internship, fellowship, etc. (company/organization): Saint Benedict Senior Community
How did you find out about your internship/fellowship/etc.?: With the global pandemic happening, I knew that I wanted to do something to help. I had previously volunteered and worked at the nursing home and had a few connections with the staff.
What were your responsibilities at your internship/fellowship/etc.?: My day at the internship typically started before the sun even began to rise. I was the first employee of that day to enter the building. At this point, I would screen anyone that walked through the front door for any signs or symptoms of COVID 19. A large part of my time was helping family members understand why they can not see their loved ones at this point and educating them on the pandemic. It was also my responsibility that if they showed any signs or symptoms to turn them away and send them home.
Typically the rest of my day was spent helping on the floor with resident needs. About 95% of the time either one or multiple units were in quarantine. With already not having enough staff this caused even more hardships. If you entered that unit you were not to leave until your shift was over. That meant if another floor did need help there was nothing you could do.
What was the most beneficial aspect of your experience?: The most beneficial was seeing things firsthand. It is easy to hear about things on the news or read about them, but you never realize how bad a situation is until you are put in the middle of it. Having this experience confirmed my love for the health care field. It confirmed that my passion was to help people to the best of my ability.
What was the most surprising thing you experienced or learned during your internship/fellowship/etc.?: One day my boss and a social worker came to me with tears in their eyes. I knew they were trying to stay strong but also knew something was terribly wrong. My heart sank as they told me one of the well-known residents was passing away. Their family member was just placed on a transplant list. This meant that they were passing away alone because the family couldn't risk contracting covid. They asked me if I would be willing to sit with the resident- because no one should have to die alone. I of course understood the circumstance and took on this responsibility. As I approached the floor my heart continued to grow heavy.
Entering the room was an experience I can not put into words. I knew the resident was religious so my first action was to find their rosary and holy water. I wrapped the rosary in their hand and placed the holy water alongside them. I then proceeded to hold their hand, pray over them, hum various songs, and just be there.
Even though they were no longer conscious it was still important to be present in the room. The physical touch of another human being is powerful.
Watching someone pass is an experience you have to witness first hand to understand. After it happened everyone kept telling me I was so strong, how they could never do what I did, and I was thanked by so many people. However, all this praise wasn't something that I wanted. I didn't want recognition for this. This is what a nursing job entail, being connected with your patients.
How can you apply what you experienced at your internship/fellowship/etc. in the future? Every experience I've had through this internship will carry on with me throughout my career. It only skimmed the surface of my what my future holds but it's a great early start.
What advice would you offer to future students interested in this experience? Do not wait, reach out NOW!! It is never too early to start planning and building an internship.