Hit medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy and House show the intense situations doctors, nurses and their patients face in hospitals.
Yet, they aren’t the only employees who walk around the wards – public relations professionals also play a pivotal role in healthcare organizations.
Jenny Duffy, a former Southlake Regional Health Centre PR Intern, shares her story.
After completing a degree in sociology at the University of Guelph, Jenny enrolled in the reputable post-graduate PR program at Humber College. To be able to graduate, students in the program must complete an internship for a minimum of 8 weeks. “When I thought about what I wanted to do, I hoped it would help people. That’s why I chose to intern at Southlake,” she says.
The internship program lasted for 4 months. Each day, Jenny prepared media reports that were sent out to hospital directors and managers. She also wrote news releases about initiatives at Southlake and updated the company Intranet with information for employees.
As a part of the Corporate Communications department, Jenny was able to work at the hospital without wearing a scrub suit. “I wore a badge that indicated I was a student and people would ask what I was studying because I was in regular clothes. I got to meet some of the patients and hear about their personal experiences. We planned a 90th birthday party for a patient and I wrote about it, ” she recalls.
Much of the writing Jenny did was for Southlake’s internal newsletter, Lifeline. She also photographed events and some of her photos were featured in Hospital News, a newspaper available at healthcare institutions across Canada.
While Jenny accomplished a lot at Southlake, she did find one aspect of the job challenging: “It took a little while for me to learn the hospital terminology. I had to do a bit of research,” she says.
At the end of her 4 months there, Jenny was given a farewell lunch by the department. She says she enjoyed being at Southlake and has valuable advice for anyone considering an internship or job at a hospital: “Don’t be afraid to interact with others and ask questions. It’s one of the best ways to learn. Also, it’s important to remember that people in a hospital are looking for help. You have to care about everyone around you.”