Berkshire Community College, Community Education and Workforce Development, Pittsfield, MA
This summer, I worked as an intern for Berkshire Community College (BCC) developing a medical literacy course for non-native speakers, with a specific focus on community related needs and resources. BCC has programs and courses geared towards the needs of the community, looking to advance education and prepare students for careers in healthcare professions. This course looks to provide the necessary vocabulary and grammar to navigate these programs, as well as enable students to healthcare systems at large.
My specific role revolved around creating the curriculum for this course starting with identifying necessary topics and modules all the way to the creation of class activities and exams. The topics we decided to focus on ranged from basic terminology necessary to pursue a career in health, to community specific resources around addiction and access to health providers. While there was an obvious focus on learning objectives, this was accompanied by an intent to make the learning relevant and applicable to real world settings.
I was fortunate to work alongside another Williams intern, and really enjoyed the collaborative aspect of the job. Having someone with a slightly different perspective and background helped to see the course through a different set of eyes, and contribute in areas and disciplines that I would have never thought to include on my own. Even though much of our work was done remotely, this team effort helped to make it more interesting and social.
One of the biggest challenges we faced was creating a course that was informative from a content standpoint, but also interactive enough for the students to gain the key grammatical and vocabulary concepts. Our supervisor, Elena Nuciforo, was extremely helpful by giving key insight on teaching methods that focused around repetition and implementing the grammatical structures. We also collaborated with a BBC colleague who teaches English language to help structure our class, which was a shift in thinking for me, as I had assumed the class would be more public health geared. However, looking at it in the English scope made the formatting and design much better. This served to show how truly interdisciplinary public health in practice is.
Healthcare access is such an important issue, and a class enabling members of the community to navigate the complicated dynamics was a job that felt like a good way to help. For me, this work was very informative for the direction of my career after graduation. An aspect that I definitely want to maintain is the collaborative effort; however, in terms of career I would probably tend towards something more focused on the science side of public health and less on the implementation and teaching side. Overall, this was a great experience, and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to learn firsthand about our community and public health in practice.