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Gaining patient care hours at ACR Homes.As a pre-med student at the University of Minnesota,  I wanted a part-time job where I could gain those much needed patient care hours that every medical school requires.  I saw an ACR flyer posted in the health sciences building on campus, so I applied.  I was hired as a part-time direct care staff at a group home for people with disabilities. Being on a team of co-workers supporting four of the most amazing individuals I have ever met was an incredible experience. It was a part-time job that I absolutely loved!

“I’ve learned more about diseases and diagnoses than I could in any classroom or lab”

In the past 4 ½ years at ACR I’ve had the privilege of working at seven different group homes with many incredible individuals. My patient care hours here have taught me more about infections, diseases and diagnoses than any classroom or research laboratory. I’ve learned about traumatic brain injuries, tonic-clonic seizures, cerebral palsy and Prader-Willi syndrome. I’ve seen firsthand the warning signs and symptoms of cellulitis and what it’s like for a patient to be septic. I’ve even seen firsthand what a stroke looks like as it’s happening. I’ve worked with residents who have trachs, g-tubes, ostomy bags, oxygen tanks, CPAPs and many other kinds of medical equipment. I’ve spent hours at routine appointments, at unexpected emergency room visits, and at sudden hospitalizations that turn into week-long stays.

“I absolutely love being ‘that person’ who could impact quality of care”

My original plan was to work at ACR for two and a half years of undergrad work, and then take a gap year and get a job in a research lab. But one morning I was assigned to take a resident to an important appointment. The resident’s guardians were there, so I didn’t expect to do any talking during the appointment. Near the end of the visit  the doctor asked the guardians a question about one of the resident’s medications. To my surprise, the guardians didn’t know.  All eyes in the room suddenly shifted to me.  I was able to answer the doctor’s question simply and confidently.  I absolutely loved being “that person” who could have such an impact on her quality of care. This is when I knew with certainty that I wanted to attend medical school.

Patient care hours as a live-in supervisor

Soon after that appointment I was asked if I had ever considered becoming a live-in residential supervisor at the house.  I thought, “What better way could I gain patient care hours and experience as well as leadership experience for medical school?” Sure, experience in a research lab would be great, but the patient care aspect of ACR was so much better.

I made the decision to take a two year gap before applying to medical school and become a live-in residential supervisor at the group home where I had been working for two and a half years.  In this role I’m able to live rent free and really save money for medical school.  I’m able to pop in to fix a wheelchair part that only I know how to fix.  I’m able to work side by side with the fantastic staff at my house where we know what teamwork really is.

Valuable experience for the medical school application

In the process I’ve developed into a leader who can efficiently and effectively communicate with physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses and hospital staff. I am the one to whom my staff look for guidance. The one on whom my residents and their families depend  for the best possible care.  I know what it takes to be that go-to person who can respond to unforeseen events 24/7.

Taking a two year gap to work as a live-in supervisor at ACR Homes has given me valuable experience for the medical school application process and my future endeavors. I’m not telling you it’s easy, but I’m telling you it’s definitely worth it.

By Megan Petermann, live-in residential supervisor at ACR and med school candidate