MiChart summer interns — a win-win!

Whats your college student doing this summer? Is it meaningful work? Is it making a difference? Are they taking steps towards their career goals? Or having experiences that could cause them to rethink their major?

Interns huddle during MiChart go live at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center

Interns huddle with a Super User during MiChart go live at the Cardiovascular Center

I’m happy to say that all of the above could be true for 250+ student interns we hired as “at the elbow” support for our inpatient electronic medical record implementation. And it is a win-win. As part of our MiChart activation team, we get much needed help from bright, enthusiastic, high energy undergrad and graduate students. They get real world experience in a health care setting: a med/surg nursing unit, labor and delivery, OR and PACU, an ICU, an adult or pediatric setting, or an outpatient department.

We had a very positive experience on a smaller scale last summer – 27 interns for an earlier MiChart go live. 4 of them were hired at UMHS after their internships. So we turned again to student interns for this implementation. But this time, on a much grander scale. After all, we had 14,000 users to train on the new system and they would all need support.

Whats the first step?  Recruitment – you have to go to where they are. We had an aggressive effort by a small team focused on five universities in Michigan last fall and winter.  That meant a lot of career fairs and interviewing. As a result, we hired 259 student interns including 12 leads. 9 of the leads are returning from last year – another win-win. The interns come from 17 different schools. They represent over 40 different majors including Nursing, Health Administration, Pre-Med, Psych, Computer Information Systems, RT, Nutrition, Education, Business, Telecommunications and others.  We even have one high school student.

After recruitment, you have to onboard them, train them, schedule shifts and arrange transportation.

Student interns at orientation in May

Student interns at orientation in May

It has been a big group to onboard and train. We started with a two day orientation where they got the basics including their IDs and vests.  Our experience is that your interns need to learn much more than the users. Make sure your user training team offers enough courses for them.  If we did this again, wed have dedicated training resources specifically for the student interns, to train them, to monitor their progress and to answer their ongoing questions. In the coming weeks, we will conduct in-service training for the interns to keep them current as we tweak the system post go live.

Scheduling the interns across all the shifts in so many departments is complicated. Early assignments and scheduling for the interns drives the specific training they will need.  Students want to get to know where they will be working before the big go live. Some student interns have flexible hours, which makes scheduling easier, but many are juggling two summer jobs or classes.

And dont forget transportation. This could make or break the program, depending on your situation.  At the University of Michigan, we are fortunate to have an extensive shuttle system as well as public bus transportation to and from the medical campus.

The success of our intern program is not hard to measure. The manager responsible for the interns regularly hears “WE LOVE OUR STUDENTS” and “They are AWESOME” from the users. The students have smiles on their faces when I see them during rounding and in the halls.

Some want to talk with me about future opportunities and to get career advice. I always say yes, and look forward to those conversations. It’s a part of my commitment to developing the next generation of health IT leaders.

Watch for future posts for advice on developing an intern program. It’s not too early to make a plan for next summer!

12 thoughts on “MiChart summer interns — a win-win!

  1. Fadi Islim on said:

    Great Post,
    I hope they get the chance to read your post so they would they’ve been recognized by you. we do appreciate them and their hard work. i might try to contact Jarred so he can send your post to all of them maybe the link via email if he have their email grouped. this post is a big encouragement to them and force them to work harder.

    on their behalf, Thank you Sue.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Fadi, many of the interens subscribe to my blog so get notifications of new posts. I was planning to send them a group email letting them know they are my latest subject – they’ll love the pix! Sue

  2. Jane Martin on said:

    This was a massive and complicated undertaking, and everyone involved should be congratulated. We have found our student ATEs for Beacon in the Cancer Center to be helpful and engaged. Glad they are staying on for a bit. A true win-win!

  3. Jenni Sporer on said:

    At the Cancer Center, I have been very pleased with provider and clinical staff comments. One provider said to me that she likes having ATEs in the staff room to help with issues right away and to escalate as needed.

  4. Great program! I would think this helps with physician adoption as well. How could a physician profess the system is too difficult to learn/use if the interns are supporting the implementation?

    Also great advertising for U of M for the colleges!

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Great point. Hope other organizations with upcoming EHR implementations will consider doing something similar.

  5. Lynda Mitgutsch on said:

    I was VERY happy with the ATE group!
    I was here when we started careLink and this went so much better.
    I was happy with the efforts and friendliness of our ATE team.
    Thank you for your efforts with them. It did not go unnoticed by the staff who needed them.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Lynda, that’s great to hear! We learn from each go live and the ATE approach for Stage 3 reflected one of those key learnings.

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