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In Focus

Meet Independence Blue Cross Foundation nurse intern Cassidy Gallagher

By August 12, 2020June 24th, 2022Community Health Nursing Education
Cross Foundation Nurse Intern at Community Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM) in Chester County

Independence Blue Cross Foundation Nurse Intern Cassidy Gallagher doing a glucose test for a patient.

Cassidy Gallagher is a rising senior studying nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. This summer she is an Independence Blue Cross Foundation (Foundation) nurse intern at Community Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM) in Chester County. CVIM is a free health care center where volunteers provide health services to low-income people who have no insurance and nowhere else to turn for care. In addition to primary medical and dental care, CVIM offers more than 30 medical specialties. The Foundation is a longstanding partner of CVIM, providing grants for general operating support and for a non-opioid pain management program. Cassidy is the first Foundation nurse intern to work at CVIM.

Interning at Community Volunteers in Medicine: Challenges, opportunities, and making a difference

Cassidy Gallagher

Cassidy Gallagher

We talked to Cassidy to learn more about her experience at CVIM.

What made you want to become a nurse?

I had always been interested in going to medical school. In high school, I shadowed a few nurses and doctors and met a nurse practitioner at an outpatient cancer infusion center. She shared a lot about her job, especially how she personally connects with her patients and the day-to-day hands-on care. That was what really inspired me to pursue a nursing career. 

What have you been doing at CVIM this summer?

As an intern, I get to observe so much happening in the center and lots of different specialties, like gynecology, orthopedics, and dermatology. Because I speak Spanish, I sometimes help translate for patients whose native language isn’t English. CVIM is currently transitioning from paper charts to electronic medical records. I studied those in nursing school, so I’ve been able to help some of the experienced nurses at CVIM transition to the new system. Overall, I’ve enjoyed getting to practice my clinical skills in a variety of ways.

“CVIM is committed to helping train the next generation of health care professionals. A number of our volunteer nurses are not available to help this summer, so having Cassidy here every day has been especially helpful. Cassidy is a quick study, good with patients and has a sunny personality. These strengths make her a highly productive, helpful and positive presence.”
– Julie Rusenko, Vice President of Development for CVIM 

What has been the most interesting part of being a Foundation nurse intern?

I love that I was placed at CVIM through the Foundation Nurse Internship because it’s such unique place to work. Most of the nurses and doctors are volunteers and they are passionate about providing essential health care services to people who may have no other ways to get that care. I’m proud and happy to work at a place where people share a common belief that everyone deserves to have quality health care.

“At CVIM, Cassidy and other students are exposed to a uniquely comprehensive health center. Interns have the opportunity to meet and work with a large number and wide variety of health care professionals who are often eager to teach and mentor students.”
– Julie Rusenko, Vice President of Development for CVIM 

How has this internship affected your career goals and aspirations? 

Being a nurse intern at CVIM is different than doing clinical rotations in a hospital. I see how the doctors and nurses work with the patient’s whole family, not just the patient. This continuity of care allows me to better understand how people’s families, for example, can affect their health. I always thought I might want to work in an outpatient setting and this experience solidified that for me. 

What is it like to be a nurse intern during the COVID-19 pandemic?

CVIM does not treat patients with COVID-19 symptoms in the clinic. Symptomatic patients are cared for through telehealth and intensive case management via phone. The clinic has an extensive screening process before appointments to ensure that our patients and volunteers are safe. There are rigorous cleaning protocols as well. I’ve never felt like I was at risk this summer, and I know our patients are safe. Things may take a little more time, but everyone understands. I proud to be part of the health care workforce during this unprecedented time. 

How has telemedicine played a role in your internship during the pandemic?

I never used telemedicine before working at CVIM and I have found it to be very effective. The CVIM staff shared with me that telehealth is a priority right now due to the pandemic conditions and it will be a primary mode of health care delivery going forward. At CVIM, we have high hopes for the potential that telehealth brings to our health care mission and anticipate tackling its challenges with enthusiasm in the coming year.


Allie Ernst

As a recent graduate from Penn State University with a dual degree in public relations and political science, I’ve spent the past two summers working with the Corporate Communications team at Independence Blue Cross. I was born and raised in Montgomery County and have always valued the meaningful impact that Independence has made in our community.