Five Hamilton students who plan careers in medicine are gaining valuable clinical experience working directly with patients at the Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains, N.Y. Julia Gelissen ’14, Allison Hall ’14, Allison Reeder ’14, Alice Grant ’14 and Jennifer Kim ’14 have been working as nurses’ assistants at the hospital since the end of May. The hospital generously provides housing for the students.
This summer marks the 21st year that Hamilton students have worked at Burke. The opportunity has offered a wonderful introduction to medicine for more than 100 clinicians currently in practice.
Students’ daily responsibilities include taking vital signs, helping patients get dressed and use the bathroom, transporting patients to and from therapies, and assisting patients with anything they may need during the day.
In addition to their daily tasks, the students have the opportunity to interact with a number of different health professionals each week and come to understand the importance of teamwork in rehabilitation medicine.
The doctors at Burke talk with the students about their research or may bring a student or two along on their daily rounds. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the students attend a lecture given by a doctor, therapist, administrator or other health professional. And each week the students have the opportunity to attend a lecture by a prominent guest speaker who comes to the hospital to discuss his or her latest research.
The students have been warmly welcomed into the Burke community by patients and staff alike. The older patients particularly enjoy seeing the younger students and are eager to learn about the students’ education and medical ambitions.
Jennifer Kim said, “I realized that a smile, a positive attitude, and the power of touch are all great ways to help my patients. They are in pain and feeling vulnerable, and the encouragement I bring into the room can really impact how my patients perform in therapy that day.”
Burke is located on a 61-acre campus in White Plains, and includes a 150-bed inpatient hospital and an outpatient clinic, as well as a public gym, a Montessori pre-school and a research center.
Patients come to the inpatient hospital after strokes, brain or spinal cord trauma, unilateral or bilateral joint replacement, open-heart surgery or diagnosis with severe pulmonary disorders. Burke is unique because it offers patients four to five hours of intense physical and occupational therapy per day as they recover. The average patient stay at the inpatient hospital is 12 days.
The Burke experience has been an educational and rewarding one for the students. In addition to giving them a new appreciation both for being healthy and for the health care system, working at Burke lets students see the light at the end of the long premed/medical school tunnel, helping them keep sight of the reasons they want to go into health care.