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As an undergraduate at the U of M, I explored healthcare fields that would match my personality and my goals. While discussing this with a friend, she told me about her position with a company that provides in-home medical care and support to individuals with a wide range of  health needs, from medical and physical to behavioral and intellectual. The company also has a healthcare internship program.  I was passionate about providing high quality patient care, so I decided to explore this new facet of healthcare. Two weeks later, I began training with ACR Homes, on my way to becoming a DCP— a Direct Care Professional.

healthcare internshipChoosing a Healthcare Internship Project

During orientation, I learned about ACR’s wide range of internship opportunities.  I immediately decided that this was something I wanted to pursue. I hoped to use this opportunity to investigate healthcare challenges faced by individuals with unique medical and personal needs.  My goal was to find a lasting solution to at least one of these challenges.

I began analyzing care challenges in the home where I worked, searching for an internship topic. I noticed that a certain individual experienced extremely reduced muscle control which led to limitations in access during oral cares.  As a result, everything from flossing and brushing to therapies and stimulation was difficult. I assisted this individual to a dental appointment and was surprised when the dentist noted the tartar build up, the bad breath, and the eventual damage tartar would cause, but dismissed it saying, “the blanket of tartar kind of protects his teeth.”   Without better access to the individual’s mouth the dentist could do little. He would have to wait until it reached the point of needing care under anesthesia. I knew something needed to change.  This was a healthcare challenge I wanted to explore, so I started searching for a solution.  This became my healthcare internship project.

My Internship at ACR Made an Impact

My internship project taught me about the need to advocate for improvements in patient care. I also experienced the challenges of implementing new tools and plans, and I saw the impact I could make in someone’s life. Through research and trial and error, the solution I came up with for this individual was a mouth prop. Once a mouth prop was implemented during oral cares and therapies, he regained a brilliant smile. In addition, I was thrilled to see him regain a sense of confidence, cleanliness, and happiness that had been lost due to limited access for oral cares.

ACR Homes–the BEST decision I have ever made

Becoming a DCP with ACR Homes was honestly the BEST decision I have ever made. I was able to work and accumulate over 2400 hours of health care experience and complete a great healthcare internship. Even better, I made an impact on this one person’s life.  In the process I discovered more about who I am, what gives me the most personal and professional fulfillment, and where I want to go with my next major step in life.

I am currently applying to physician assistant programs.  Thanks to ACR Homes, I realize that I value providing medical care to a wide range of individuals, building strong patient-provider relationships, the responsibility and reward of being held accountable for making judgment calls.  I now know what healthcare career is the best fit for me, and that I want to continue providing high quality holistic healthcare for my future patients. I don’t want to just make people smile, I want to make them truly, completely happy.

Laura Richardson, former ACR Intern

Learn more about ACR’s Internship Program here.