Four Franklin & Marshall students are spending the semester working as strategic analysts for Lancaster General Health (LGH), thanks to an internship-for-credit program recently launched by Career Services.
F&M Consults gives the students an opportunity to assist in planning long-range strategy for Lancaster’s largest health-care provider. The students will provide LGH with research and analysis in four key areas of investigation, tracking and monitoring. The project originated from a discussion between Frank Tortorello, executive director of career services, and James Carney P’11, who suggested adapting a program for M.B.A. students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for application at F&M.
“It's a very high-level internship looking at the strategic future of LGH and requiring a tremendous amount of independent work by the students,” says Trexler Proffitt, assistant professor of organization studies and director of the academic component of the internship. “Our goal is to structure it so they have enough local support to do their analysis.”
Students participating in the program concentrate on one of four “critical uncertainties,” issues deemed to be important to the future of health care by physicians and administrative leaders at LGH. The research areas include:
- New delivery models in health care (Nadia Danshevar ’11);
- Cutting-edge innovations in health and medicine (Johnny Lawrence ’11);
- Shortage of health-care workers (Maame Minkah ’11); and
- Changing demographics and increasing life expectancy (Kim Dustman ’10).
Throughout the internship, students work directly with internal LGH “champions” who help to guide their research. They also share their progress and experiences with each other during regular meetings with Proffitt, who likens the internship to a small class, with four different projects.
“It’s a great opportunity to take what we’re learning and apply it in the local community to make changes,” Lawrence says.
The students’ research is not limited to Lancaster, or even the United States. They study issues on a broad scale to help envision solutions in areas critical to future health care. “We’re looking at the entire world and thinking about these issues,” Danshevar says. “There is a shortage of primary-care physicians and general surgeons. Health care in the future will depend on self-care, and preventive care to reduce costs.”
The interns entered the program with varying degrees of experience in public health, but each with an enthusiasm to learn more. For Dustman, the public health intern at the Ware Institute for Civic Engagement, it is an opportunity to investigate health-care issues on a deeper level. Minkah, meanwhile, had never worked closely with the topic; she applied because the program looked interesting and she liked the academic component.
At the completion of the internship, students will submit an independent report to LGH and give a presentation on their findings. Proffitt, who credits the staff of career services with making the internship possible, hopes the program builds on this year’s success.
“This is the best-structured internship I’ve seen,” Proffitt says. “It comes from taking a risk, and rising to the challenge. This is what internships at liberal arts schools should look like. They should be high-level, and strategic. And I love that it’s a current hot topic in our nation.”