The Road Ahead

Serving as the Community Health Case Manager at La Salle Neighborhood Nursing Center has cemented my desire to achieve a dual Master’s degree in Social Work and Public Health. My tasks range from scheduling blood pressure screenings and health education events to serving at the Backstretch of PARX and offering health education to the employees that work with the racehorses. As an undergrad at the University of Florida, I received a major in Public Health and a minor in Health Disparities in Society. This granted me the opportunity to see how one’s neighborhood, level of education, and access to quality food can impact their physical health.

My NHC service term at the Neighborhood Nursing Center included making doctor’s appointments and attending them with our clients. These unique experiences further solidified my interest in advocacy and social work because I was frustrated at the lack of resources and the communication our health system offers. Many clients had trouble scheduling doctors appointments because they would be put on hold for an exorbitant amount of time. However, if I were to travel to the hospital to make an appointment in person, it usually took less than five minutes. Not everyone has access to transportation which creates barriers to arriving on time to appointments. Some hospitals will still see patients up until fifteen minutes after their scheduled appointment time but will tell patients to reschedule their appointment if they are later. This can be very frustrating when specialists are booked out two months ahead.

Paige (middle) with her Host Site Mentor Sharon Starr (left) and coworker Mary Joan Niemiec (right)

Health is all encompassing. Social work and health don’t have to act as silos but can be intricately intertwined for the benefit of the patient. This can be through care coordination, approaching behavioral health from an integrated view, and emphasizing patient self care and empowerment. I encourage anyone who is interested in gaining experience in the healthcare field before attending graduate school to apply to the National Health Corps. Not only has NHC assisted in my professional development growth, but it has also provided me with a deeper understanding of what the future of public health and social work can be.

This blog post was written by NHC Philadelphia member Paige Wegener.
Paige serves as a Community Health Case Manager at LaSalle Neighborhood Nursing Center.