Ruth Laurence ’22

Erie Family Health Centers, Chicago, IL

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity of working remotely for Erie Family Health Centers as a Strategy and Marketing Intern. Erie is a group of thirteen FQHC’s (federally qualified health centers) in the Chicago area guided by the mission that healthcare is a human right. They provide high-quality, affordable care to their patients, ninety percent of whom live in low-income households. I am passionate about women’s healthcare and I felt very fortunate to work for Erie, because a lot of their community and healthcare education focuses on women.

Working at home was a blast!

One of the larger projects I worked on this summer involved vaccine hesitancy. In May and June, individuals in the 18-29 age group were the least likely to be vaccinated against Covid-19 (out of everyone eligible). I researched messaging strategies that could target this age group and looked at the efficacy of incentives that were already in place: Governor Pritzker’s “Shot and a Beer” bill, free Lollapalooza tickets and the Illinois vaccine lottery are a few examples. I then developed an Instagram campaign to promote premium dating app features for vaccinated singles and another Instagram campaign to emphasize the danger Covid poses to people under 30.

At the end of the summer, I worked on a similar project in anticipation of the vaccine being approved for children under 12. There are a lot more studies about effective messaging for getting children vaccinated, and I got to read papers on moral philosophy as well as UNICEF and CDC reports. I watched vaccine promotions for the HPV and MMR shot and spent a lot of time learning what not to say, which is often just as important in healthcare messaging. This was my first time working on a marketing project and it was so interesting to be the woman behind the scenes, so to speak. For the first time, I was the one writing messaging and it was a fun challenge.

I also worked on a prenatal packet that will eventually be available Erie-wide. This packet is an all-you-need-to-know for new parents and encompasses pre-natal and post-natal care, and everything in between. All patient education materials at Erie are written at a sixth grade reading level to make them as accessible as possible. I worked on rewording language from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology about labor and delivery medications. An episiotomy became “a surgical cut made to widen the vaginal opening” and systemic analgesics became “opioids.” This project is especially meaningful to me because I intend to be an OB-GYN; I was just as excited to learn all the medical information as I was to develop patient education materials. Being a good doctor isn’t just about knowing all the science; it’s about communicating well with your patients, getting them to trust you and making sure they understand you. I got to develop those skills this summer.

This was an amazing experience, and it would not have been possible without the generous support of Jill and John Svoboda and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration.