By Raelee Ciriacks, student intern

As my student internship comes to an end, I wanted to reflect upon my time at Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin and share it with prospective students and HealthCorps members. Over the past four months, I have worked with all seven initiatives at the Alliance: asthma, early literacy, oral health, injury prevention, grief and bereavement, medical home and emergency medical services. While I am not entering the public health workforce after graduation, these experiences will be beneficial in my future schooling and career as a physician assistant.

Raelee, center, with Alliance staff at Wisconsin Hospital Association Advocacy Day.

There have been many enjoyable experiences and projects that I have worked on, but the greatest impact that I will take away from my internship is seeing how public health integrates with medical care. For example:

  • Implementing books into well-child visits can increase the parent-child bond and increase the child’s school readiness.
  • The Medical Home Initiative offers trainings to doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants on how to screen for mental health issues and developmental delays so early intervention can be provided.

I can implement these public health programs into my own practice, such as starting a Reach Out and Read program in my future clinic or conducting screenings as a part of my routine appointments. These public health initiatives make a positive impact in health care and now I can integrate them into my practice as a physician assistant.

In addition to learning about public health, I also had the opportunity to shadow two Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin physician assistants during my internship. The Alliance’s connections with the hospital and other community partners are a strong asset and I recommend that students take advantage of these relationships.

Finally, I saw how legislative advocacy impacts health care when I attended Wisconsin Hospital Association Advocacy Day in Madison. Governor Tony Evers and former Governor Tommy Thompson were two of the speakers at this event, and it was interesting to learn about the current political climate surrounding health care in the state of Wisconsin.

After completing this internship, I am more aware of the public health, medical and policy challenges that children face today. Going forward in my education and career, I plan to make a positive impact in these areas as a physician assistant. I’ve had a wonderful experience as an intern at Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin and I can’t wait to continue being a voice for children’s health!