Six OHSU UCEDD Interns Explore Careers in Health Care and Disability

August 31, 2015

This August, the OHSU UCEDD in Portland, OR graduated six interns from our Summer Internship Program. The program, which has been graduating interns every summer for more than a decade, offers a unique career exploration opportunity for high-school or early college students with a demonstrated interest in careers in the disability field. Many of the students experience a disability or have close family members who experience disability. The internship provides hands-on work experience opportunities and also allows students to explore the vast world of health care careers in a clinical setting.

The interns spend eight weeks at the OHSU campus and are assigned to various UCEDD projects such as communications, public health, and disability research. This year's projects included developing emergency preparedness publications for people with disabilities, designing a map of Oregon to visually track data related to disability across the state, and updating Healthy Lifestyles program materials.

Tours of OHSU's labs and facilities offered the interns exposure to medical education and various career paths. At the Surgical Simulation Lab tour, OHSU staff demonstrated cutting-edge technology in which mannequins simulate medical symptoms and emergencies. Two of the interns participated in a mannequin birth, in which mannequin mother and baby produced sounds, heartbeats, pupil dilations, and even fluids.
The UCEDD provided support for the interns to observe in clinics and conduct informational interviews with clinical staff to learn about careers and practice their networking skills. Students observed in the Down Syndrome, LEND, Autism, and Physical Therapy Clinics.

The feedback from the interns was very positive. "The fieldtrips were very interesting and I always looked forward to them. I also enjoyed visiting the Physical Therapy clinic. I learned a lot about myself and disabilities."

For summer 2016, UCEDD has plans to expand opportunities to include advocacy training and self-assessment and take additional field trips to OHSU's National Primate Research Center and Life Flight. Applications for next summer's internship will be available online in January 2016.