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The research project that I was involved in this summer focused on developing and implementing innovations in health care delivery that would meet the needs of the Penn State employee and beneficiaries who are covered under the University’s health benefits program. My experience with project involved a great deal of literature review on various programs and models of care that have aimed at accomplishing the basic goals of this project—increasing value for patients and lowering cost for payers. I also got the chance to review internal documents of the project and sit in on meetings where pivotal decisions were made. In addition to all of this, I was able to help put together the draft of a case-study research paper that discusses the project and lessons learned thus far. The other experience that I got involved in this summer was working as part of New Student Orientation (NSO)’s Welcome Crew. This engagement with transition programs involved introducing new students and families to the Penn State community and addressing and issues or concerns they had during their stay over the summer.

This experience was important for both my career and personal development. Doing research with professional staff at the University has allowed me to gain insight into that non-clinical side of healthcare. Getting to work with NSO helped me fulfill my personal desire to impact the student culture here at the university which, I strongly believe, starts with the newest members of the community. Engaging in this summer experience has allowed me to take part in a project that would impact over 25,000+ lives and be part of an influential team here at Penn State that welcomes 8,000 new students every summer leaving them with a lasting impression of PSU forever.

With this research opportunity, I got to see how various health policy concepts intersect in the real world as opposed to the way they are individually presented in the classroom. Some these concepts included: population health studies, IT integration into healthcare, and rising costs in the industry. Furthermore, I got practice and improve management skills that have been introduced to me in the class with students and families that I would interact with during my time with NSO. These skills included emotional interviewing, and other concepts learned from diversity and inclusion techniques.

There has been a variety of skills and lessons learned from this summer experience. I improved my public speaking skills, as well as learned about how to conduct literature reviews for project planning purposes. In addition to this, I got the chance to see first-hand how decision-making is strategically fostered in big organizations where small choices have great consequences. From the experience with NSO, I have come to experience and appreciate the power of empathy when it comes to addressing problems and concerns from individuals. I have also gotten much better with public speaking.