Program links social work interns with patients

2014-04-09T16:30:00Z 2014-04-14T08:38:05Z Program links social work interns with patientsVanessa Renderman, (219) 933-3244

HIGHLAND | Students working toward a master's degree in social work at Indiana University Northwest in Gary have a new internship option.

Prompt Ambulance Service has partnered with the university's social work program in the past, and an internship opportunity developed out of that relationship, said Ron Donahue, director of business development for the Highland-based business.

"Each semester, social worker students will intern with us to get a feel for what EMS is like," he said.

Students shadow the company's patient evaluator team for 12 to 20 hours each week during a semester, he said.

Experiences include patient assessment, ambulance ride-alongs and time in the dispatch center.

Angela Brown, of Merrillville, and DeMotte resident Heather Mathews are the program's first interns. They work under the supervision of Deb Grant, patient advocate/EMT-B with Prompt.

About a month into the program, the women said they are learning about social work from a different perspective.

Brown hopes to own her own practice some day. Getting exposure to patients in their own home and assessing what they need and trying to secure resources for them helps her see things from a patient's point of view, she said.

Patient assessment includes home visits, where workers can make sure the patient has electricity, enough food and a clean, safe environment, Grant said.

Problems can be reported to a case worker or social worker who does not have access inside a patient's home, she said.

Mathews said she likes the personal interaction she gets in talking to patients at home. Ambulance company workers see a different side to a patient's life that way, she said. 

"They're the ones who see it," she said.

An internship inside a hospital would not offer that type of insight, Brown said.

Prompt teams with local agencies, such as Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity, to help patients, Donahue said.

"The more partnerships we can build, the better," he said.

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