Here are profiles of just five of the many interns who have contributed immensely to the quality of care Seton Healthcare Family provides through Project SEARCH.
When a patient comes in for lab work at Shivers Cancer Center, chances are Lena is the first person they meet. In addition to checking in patients, Lena is responsible for answering the phone, entering lab orders into the computer and delivering specimens to the lab.
Lena graduated from Project SEARCH at University Medical Center Brackenridge in the spring of 2015. Today, she works a full 40-hour week and takes the bus to work, one of the many independent life skills she learned during her nine-month Project SEARCH internship.
Although only nineteen years old, Lena has the kind of job that many of her friends only dream of. “When I tell people I work with patients in a hospital, they are really impressed. I’m proud to work at Seton. It’s a great place.”
A graduate of Bowie High School, Lena currently lives at home, but is saving up to live on her own. She is also starting to look into taking classes in phlebotomy so that she can eventually work directly with patients doing blood draws. “If it weren’t for Project SEARCH, I would probably still be looking for a job. Now I get to interact with different people every day and help them, even when they’re having a bad day,” she said.
In 2010, Walter joined a new cohort of Project SEARCH interns at Seton Healthcare Family. Throughout his internship, Walter worked primarily with the Histology and Pathology teams within Seton Medical Center Austin’s Clinical Lab. His primary responsibility was to file tissue slides examined by physicians, which aid in diagnosing various diseases. In March 2011, while filing slides, Walter came across one slide that was filed wrong. He notified the team and filed it again in the correct place.
“It was a great save,” said La Shawn Barnett, histology lead technician. “If Walter had not made the catch it could have led to a misdiagnosis.”
Walter is no stranger to making great catches. He possesses an incredible eye for detail and recalls the identification numbers he sees. In another good catch, he recognized identical numbers on different patients’ tissues.
The lab uses a system to log every case number and patient specimen from surgery. With that and help from multiple patient identifiers, including the patient’s name, Walter and the team reconciled which patient specimen was mislabeled and corrected it.
After graduating from Project SEARCH at Seton Healthcare Family, Walter was offered a full time position with the Clinical Lab at Seton Medical Center Austin. Daily, he is responsible for reconciling and filing tissue blocks and slides for long term storage. In addition, he serves as the department’s main surgical specimen transporter.
When Meagan was selected to participate in Project SEARCH at Seton, she was a recent graduate of Bowie High School, looking for an opportunity to further develop and enhance her professional portfolio. During her yearlong Project SEARCH internship, Meagan spent time in Sterile Processing, the Emergency Department and Dietary Services. As a working part of these teams, Meagan learned a variety of advanced responsibilities – from preparing instruments for peel packs to restocking essential materials in specialty carts to assembling patient meal trays for delivery.
As many of her fellow Project SEARCH interns, Meagan discovered a niche – and a family – for herself. During her rotation with Dietary Services, Meagan excelled in her responsibilities and it wasn’t long before the management noticed. Before the Project SEARCH ceremony had the opportunity to commence, Meagan was offered a full time role on the Dietary Service team at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. She began work in late March 2014.
Not long after situating in her new position, Meagan completed the necessary requirements to obtain her Driver’s License. Now instead of taking the 90 minute commute on the Capital Metro bus, Meagan drives herself to and from work. She is proud of the greater level of independence she has achieved through work, and hopes to save up enough money to purchase her own car.
When Daniel graduated from Project SEARCH in 2008, he was the first of his inaugural class to be offered employment at Seton. Having experienced success throughout his internship, he found the best match for his skills and interests with the Sterile Processing Department.
More than seven years later, Daniel has maintained his position as Sterile Processing Tech – and is one of the department’s tenured associates. Responsible for assembling the various surgical sets used each day by surgeons and nurses, he prepares instruments for the lengthy sterilization process, assembles surgical packs, and transports supplies from the lab to surgical services.
Daniel has also taken full advantage of life skills training aspect of Project SEARCH, which encourages and prepares interns for the transition to independent living. He continues to support himself in an independent setting and is an engaged member of the Austin community.