When Ashley Walsh, a nursing student at Temple University, began seeking a summer internship, a health insurance company wasn’t the first place that occurred to her. But with an open mind, she applied for a position at Independence Blue Cross (Independence) through the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s (Foundation) Nursing Internship Program.
During her interview, Ashley learned that she wouldn’t be wearing scrubs or interacting with patients at bedside, two things she was very familiar with from nursing school. But she was interested in learning the role nurses could play at an insurance company, and accepted the position at Independence.
Learning the business of health
Ashley was one of 24 nurse interns who completed the Nursing Internship Program this year. While most of the nurse interns worked in health centers supported by the Foundation’s Blue Safety Net program, six of them joined Ashley working in various business areas at Independence, including the Clinical Services area.
“These nurses are caring for people and improving their health over the phone,” Ashley said when reflecting on her experience working under Lisa Cooper, manager, Medicare Case Management. “They help the patients and follow them after they leave the hospital. It can help change what happens to them when they go home, which is something you don’t have a lot of say in when you’re a nurse on the floor of a hospital.”
Sharing knowledge for better patient support
Another nurse intern, Catherin-Lee Holmes, spent her time reaching out to members who were recently discharged from the hospital. She coordinated follow-up appointments, transportation, and addressed concerns with medication, and home-care services. Her supervisor, Senior Case Manager Monica Hannah said, “The students are able to experience how we can indirectly support, educate, and change the health behaviors of members they would normally only see in an inpatient or outpatient setting.”
Nurse intern Sophia Lukes worked with the Medicare population and learned how nurses can use data to strategically design health programs and enhance patient care. “Nurses, with their broad clinical knowledge, bring a wealth of understanding to population-based health care, implementation of quality initiatives, analysis of health data, and input into building and monitoring health-based programs,” said Tina Riley, Clinical Analyst, who worked with Sophia on projects throughout the summer.
About the Nursing Internship Program
Started by Independence in 2004, and carried on through the Foundation since 2011, the Nursing Internship Program provides opportunities for undergraduate nursing students attending schools in the southeastern Pennsylvania region to work in community health nursing or in health care administration. During the ten-week program, nurse interns also participate in professional development sessions (Leadership Labs), to build professional competencies.