Nicole Heath: Making an IMPACT

Indiana INTERNnet celebrated internship excellence on February 7, 2018 at the 12th Annual IMPACT Awards Luncheon. Though the event is over and the winners have been announced, we are continuing to celebrate the nominees’ successes.

These are their stories.

Nicole received her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a concentration in Health Administration in August 2017.  Last year she completed an internship with Infection Control at Union Hospital in Terre Haute.


Indiana INTERNnet: Describe your experience with Union Hospital.

Nicole Heath: My experience exceeded my expectations. My supervisor, Joe McKanna, was incredible. He included me in everything that he could to expand my experience and my knowledge. My internship project was to research, develop, and implement a closed point of dispensing (POD) plan for the hospital. Essentially, if a public health emergency, such as an outbreak, were to occur, the hospital has a plan to medicate all its employees and their families onsite.

IIN: What were some of your favorite aspects of the internship?

NH: My supervisor was also able to arrange a two-day shadowing experience for me with the Vigo County Health Department. I spent a few hours each day with the different departments, but my favorite was Vector Control. At the time, there was a house infested with rats and cats in town that Vector Control was managing. I was given the option to go to the “rat house”, as they called it, or to drop mosquito larvae poison into storm drains. To their surprise, I chose the rat house (see photo below). I was then informed that the neighboring house was also infested with rats, had a methamphetamine lab in the basement, and had stolen vehicles on the property. We drove to the properties, dressed in full Tyvek suits, gloves, masks, five-gallon buckets, and grabbers, and entered the houses to remove the dead rats that were poisoned. This experience was impactful because just before the health department condemned the home, a man was living there. This man fed his 24 cats, which in turn fed the rats cat food. It shocked me that a person was living in these conditions. My heart broke for this man who did not have any idea how unhealthy his living conditions were. This experience also encouraged me to delve deeper into public health.

IIN: Describe how you helped the team develop. Did you encounter any obstacles?

NH:At the time of my internship, the Infection Control department had only two employees. They were in the process of hiring for another position. This meant that they were extremely stretched thin. I helped the Infection Control team by helping with their other duties. I created education workflow posters for nurses and physicians, as well as proofread documents. In shadowing my supervisor, I learned a lot while simultaneously helping to get the job done. I was willing to learn and try anything.

IIN: What made you interested in pursuing health sciences?

NH: The summer of 2013, before I began my undergraduate journey, I started a job at Union Hospital in Terre Haute as a Compliance Clerk in the Compliance department. This was a game changer for me as a person, student, and healthcare professional. I also completed internships with Indiana State’s Simulation Center at the hospital and with Infection Control also at Union. These experiences helped to shape my career choice and my higher education plans.

IIN: What are your future plans and career goals?

NH: After graduating in August 2017, I began graduate school in September 2017 at Indiana Wesleyan University to obtain a Master’s degree in Public Health. My anticipated graduation date is December 2019. In January 2018, I began a new position at Union Hospital’s Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health as a Project Associate. This is a full-time, salary position that allows me to work in the public health and rural health field as I earn my master’s degree. I manage various grant projects and facilitate meetings and relationships between the hospital and rural health clinics. I have already had the privilege of meeting one of Indiana’s senators. I am enjoying the journey that this learning curve has taken me on. I see myself staying in this field and position for a long time.

Below is a photo provided by Nicole from her time at Union Hospital. 

This is a photo of Nicole at the rat house. They removed about 15 rats that day. The health department requested a photo for their annual report.

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