PEMBROKE — Olivia Spaulding had her sights set on becoming a pediatrician.
After a six-week internship at Lumberton Children’s Clinic, the sophomore at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke looked at other medical fields, like gynecology.
Spaulding hasn’t ruled out a career treating children, but she is grateful for such an eye-opening experience.
Spaulding was among 12 UNCP students who participated in the Clinical Health Summer Program. The program allows future health professionals to gain practical experience and examine health careers.
“Through my internship I was able to work in every aspect of medicine from registration to lab to finance to working with nursing assistants, nurses and providers,” Spaulding said. “It really helped me to understand the roles of the environment, people including legislation, and several other factors that play in developing tomorrow’s medicine.”
The program is part of the university’s Health Careers Access Program. Natalya Locklear serves as the program coordinator. The students completed 240 clinical patient contact hours in different facilities throughout the region.
“We place students in various fields of their choice whether they are interested in becoming a physician assistant, optometrist, pharmacist or a physical therapist,” Locklear said. “We also have students who have an interest in veterinary medicine, dentistry or becoming a medical doctor.
“They gain the experience so they can either solidify, change or expand their horizons on different aspects of that particular field,” Locklear said.
An internship at Southeastern Regional Medical Center (SRMC) solidified Aliyah Lynch’s career path.
“I know without a doubt now that I want to be a physical therapist,” said Lynch, a senior Biology major. “It was an absolutely amazing experience.”
Daniel Middleton’s mind is made up, too.
“My experience solidified my resolve and desire to work in pediatrics though I am still unsure if I would prefer to be a physician or physician assistant,” said Middleton, a sophomore.
Allison Savage of Lumberton said the best part of her internship at Southeastern Regional Medical Center was assisting the physician in the operating room.
“This was a great opportunity to test my abilities of having a strong stomach in gory situations and being successful in a high-stressed environment,” Savage said.
After the program, students gave a PowerPoint presentation and presented a research paper on their experiences.
The students also visited Wingate University and Campbell University and toured their pharmacy, physical therapy and physician assistant programs. Campbell’s medical school was also part of the tour.
The future health professionals also attended the annual Larry Keith Health Professionals Recruitment Fair on the campus of Duke University.
Locklear said the Clinical Health Summer Program helps bring awareness to health professions and increase the number of racial and ethnic minority and/or individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds become trained, educated and employed in the health field.
The 2016 Clinical Health Summer Program participants and their internship sites were:
Sharon Ayioka: Senior chemistry and biology major from Kenya, Robeson Health Care Corporation
Erin Barnhardt: Junior chemistry major from White Oak, Children’s Health of Carolina, Lumberton Children’s Clinic
Jared Chavis: Senior biology major from Prospect, Robeson County Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
Tierra Chavis: Junior from Shannon, Sandhills Orthopedic and Spine
Kinston Cummings: Junior biology major from Maxton, Robeson Family Practice Association
Jamel Jefcoat: Senior biology major from Greensboro, Pembroke Outpatient Center for Rehabilitation
Aliyah Lynch: Senior biology major from Dallas, N.C., SRMC
Daniel Middleton: Sophomore chemistry major from Pembroke, Children’s Health of Carolina, Pembroke Pediatrics
Janeva Moore: Junior biology major from the Prospect community, Trinity Urgent Care and Family Practice
Allison Savage: Junior biology major from Lumberton, SRMC
Olivia Spaulding: Sophomore chemistry major from Lumberton, Children’s Health of Carolina, Lumberton Children’s Clinic
Travis Walters: Junior biology major from Bladenboro, Bladenboro Eye Clinic
Mark Locklear is a public communications specialist from UNCP.