Melissa (centre), assisting other interns in in the Healthwatch H&F office
I was not sure what to expect upon starting my 6-week internship with Healthwatch Hammersmith & Fulham.
Immediately jumping in to help tackle Healthwatch’s large goal of improving the health and social care system to fit people’s needs was a bit of a daunting task, particularly for someone who is not well-acquainted with the London area, especially Hammersmith & Fulham. My coworkers and supervisors were encouraging right away and supported my early learning process. Their instant faith in me gave me confidence to embrace my differing perspectives and eagerness to learn.
During patient experience visits, I often found myself chatting with patients about their lives, creating connections both through our shared identities and varying backgrounds. I attended various community listening events where I was able to learn about the issues that matter to residents and become more informed about the healthcare system here.
It has sometimes proved challenging to appreciate the impact we are making in the community, given the massive ambitions and scope of Healthwatch. Attending meetings with partners and larger organisations in the area assisted in bringing our contributions to light. One such event that notably stuck with me was a North West London NHS-hosted healthcare inequalities meeting. Given that I am still in University and from the United States, I was by far the youngest and least knowledgeable person there. Despite this perceived barrier, using the self-assurance I had gained from my previous weeks at Healthwatch, I decided to use my compilation of insight both from my time in London and from prior experiences at home to share a concept that was overlooked by those well-versed in the H&F healthcare realm. After the array of confused head turns upon hearing a young American accent, a seasoned professional expressed his appreciation for my comment and the benefit of my additional perspective. This interaction showed me that our presence is appreciated and encouraged throughout the borough.
Through my internship at Healthwatch Hammersmith & Fulham, I have gotten quite proficient in Microsoft Excel, and I have been able to practise confidently approaching people and sharing my ideas. Interning at Healthwatch has been a great experience where I have learned about an entirely different healthcare system, engaged with residents to better understand their experiences, and met great people, all while improving my data analysis and interpersonal skills.
Interning at Healthwatch has been a great experience where I have learned about an entirely different healthcare system, engaged with residents to better understand their experiences, and met great people, all while improving my data analysis and interpersonal skills.