August 16, 2023

Designed for Action: YCP Students Work Summer Externships and Jobs in Medicine

4 Minutes

At York College, students aren’t just reading textbooks and listening to lectures. They’re working on community projects, solving real-world problems, and using their education to effect change. In Designed for Action, we meet the students who are making an impact outside of the classroom.

Summer work experience is important in any field, but particularly so in health care.

That’s why Medical Laboratory Science major Natalie Swingler ’25 (Hanover, Pennsylvania) and Nursing major Talon Basiewicz ’24 (Cleveland, Ohio) chose to complete externships and jobs in medicine this summer. Both learned the value of experiential learning firsthand and had the opportunity to work with a team of dedicated staff and professionals who made it all the more worthwhile.

Natalie: WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital

Natalie had initially completed an externship with WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital in August 2022. After the externship, she was offered the opportunity to stay on staff as a PRN (pro re nata, as needed) laboratory assistant at the hospital, where she has been ever since.

“During my first year of college, I received an email about summer externships and wanted to get a better understanding of what the Medical Laboratory Science major had to offer. So, I applied and was hired,” she explains.

As part of her position, Natalie processes specimens for the outpatient, emergency room, and satellite labs, loads the specimens on analyzers, and assists with fine needle aspiration procedures. She also helps make sure the general workflow is running smoothly.

Her favorite part of the experience has been meeting all the laboratory staff, she says.

“They were all so willing to show me interesting things around the lab and take time out of their days to teach me concepts that I can use later as I go through the Medical Laboratory Science clinical process,” she adds.

She also felt ready to tackle a laboratory scenario, thanks to her York College education. The courses that particularly helped her, she says, were Microbiology and its corresponding lab, and units in Anatomy & Physiology on microscopy, blood components, vessels, and typing.

“The education from YCP introduced me to the concepts I would be using in the hospital laboratory during my externship,” she states. “When I was mildly familiar with a subject, I could look back at my college course notes and be able to have a better understanding of a specific idea by seeing it in the laboratory setting.”

Natalie is grateful to have had the experience to work at WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital, and especially to have worked with the staff.

“To all of the lab staff at Gettysburg Hospital, thank you so much for all you taught me in the past year; you are all some of the most kindhearted, dedicated, and hardworking people I have had the honor to work with,” she says.

Talon: Cleveland Clinic Emergency Department

Talon completed a ten-week externship in nursing at the Cleveland Clinic, in their main campus emergency department. The goal of the experience, Talon explains, was to gain clinical experience in a hospital setting and become more familiar with the role of a nurse.

“Every day I was with a nurse, and no matter what they were doing, I was either observing or doing things myself to become more comfortable with it. I was involved in every part of the emergency department nurses are, from triaging new patients, doing initial assessments and interventions, interacting with EMS bringing us new patients, and during medical emergencies,” he explains.

Something he found particularly valuable from the internship was getting to participate in experiences outside his regular responsibilities, whether that be in classes for new caregivers or serving in a different unit.

“What I really like about the externship at Cleveland Clinic is that one day a week we are off the floor in a learning environment, where we get to participate in classes they offer to new caregivers such as de-escalation techniques and EKG rhythm strip interpretation, and we also have days where we get to experience a different unit. So, in addition to experiencing the emergency department, I was able to observe and participate with the code team and ICU nurses,” he adds.

Like Natalie, Talon especially enjoyed the staff he’s worked with.

“My favorite part of this externship has honestly been the nurses I work with. They are incredibly smart and very good at what they do, but more importantly, I felt very welcomed and never felt like a burden,” he adds. “They have found me to come show me cool procedures and always make sure that I understand what is going on. The nurses in the emergency department have honestly made this experience much more beneficial than I ever thought it could’ve been.”

He credits his time at YCP for having already familiarized him with a medical (specifically, hospital) setting. He’s not afraid to ask questions to figure out a situation, he says.

“I think the way YCP helped prepare me the most for this externship, besides giving me the basic foundations of knowledge and skills for nursing, was to make me feel more comfortable in a hospital setting and interacting with nurses,” he adds. “York taught me that it is okay to not know things, but to ask questions to help connect my knowledge to what is happening in a clinical setting.”

Next steps

After graduation, Natalie wants to work in the medical laboratory field for a few years, and potentially expand to working with genetic testing and therapies at a laboratory level. Talon hopes to work for the Cleveland Clinic if they’re hiring; he is also open to another opportunity that may present itself.

Both students emphasize the importance of experiential learning. Because of his clinical experience and education at York, Talon feels strongly prepared for his career in the nursing field and feels ready to conquer the challenges he might encounter while on his own.

“Because of the clinical experiences I have had with YCP, I have felt comfortable asking nurses endless questions to understand why certain things are being done for patients or why the patients have the symptoms that they do,” he adds. “I strongly believe that York has given me all of the knowledge I’ve needed, but this extra experience has allowed me to apply that knowledge to the real world.”