Last November 17th I posted this on the Facebook page for my business, VIVID Workplace:
“Spent the last two days attending FAHC’s Community Rounds which was outstanding. This is a program designed to give VT community leaders an inside look at the academic medical center, including clinical rotations and education about the hospital’s strategic initiatives and daily operations. Astounding research is being done in our community that is nationally lauded. Thank you, Fletcher Allen, for your transparency and your eagerness to educate us about the great work you are doing.”
After attending Community Rounds last year a close friend described her experience as “profoundly enlightening” and encouraged me to participate if I had the chance. Her statement meant more than one might imagine, as she had previously been a patient of Fletcher Allen. And although she saw more of the hospital than she would have ever wanted, she came out of her time spent within the FAHC system as a patient with an extremely positive view of the organization.
I could say the same after having two babies at Fletcher Allen, but I had NO IDEA what incredible things are going on at the hospital before I became a Community Intern last fall. During the 2-day program I spent 3 hours each morning on rounds with a doctor. This was an opportunity to see two different disciplines in action, and aside from the careful attention they paid to their patients I had their undivided attention learning about what I was witnessing and what their experience was most days at the hospital.
How fortuitous that my first morning was spent with Peter Spector, M.D. observing one of his heart surgeries. As time permitted Doctor Spector educated me about his work, both at the hospital and in his research lab. This was fascinating to me, especially because my mother had been through heart surgery the prior year in Maine.
The second morning I interned with Ruth Heimann, M.D., Ph.D. in radiation oncology. Now, I had no vote in where I did rounds, yet this experience was very personal to me as well because my step mother was just starting post-lumpectomy radiation treatments in a Massachusetts hospital that very morning. No kidding. I learned a great deal about Doctor Heimann‘s work and gained a deeper level of empathy for patients, and an extraordinary amount of respect for the work being done by these compassionate care givers.
Our afternoons were filled with a vast amount of information about the hospital system, its inner workings and key metrics, fascinating research and incredible staff. This was especially interesting to me because of my 20+ years spent working in the human resources field. I’ve negotiated with major health carriers, assisted employees with insurance claims, and helped a variety of people navigate the (sometimes complex) health system. Then there’s my experience educating others about the power of preventive care, and how it can not only improve one’s quality of life, but help keep the cost of healthcare from growing so rapidly. My time at FAHC tied a lot of this together for me as a professional and a consumer.
At the end of our second day we met with several hospital administrators, including John Brumsted, M.D., Fletcher Allen Interim President and CEO, Frederick Morin III, M.D., Dean, University of Vermont College of Medicine, and Theresa Alberghini DiPalma, SVP of Marketing and External Relations (to name a few).
These leaders had an intimate discussion with our small Community Intern group, listening very carefully to our feedback about the program. What a tremendous opportunity to not only peek behind the scenes, but also to provide input and suggestions directly to top decision makers. I have since recommended the program to other community leaders and look forward to following the hospital’s great work more closely in the future.
Beth Peters interned at Fletcher Allen’s Community Rounds program in November 2011. She is the founder of VIVID Workplace in Burlington.
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