Sara Clark

Bowling Green State University

2017

“I was honored to be selected. I learned more about Medicaid and Medicare and different programs that help older adults. I got to meet so many different people that will someday be colleagues of mine. It was a great networking opportunity.”

I completed my internship at Vancrest of St. Marys located in St. Marys, Ohio.

The project that I worked on consisted of a couple of different things. I did a lot of research with onboarding with new employees. I read the book, Successful Onboarding by Stein Christiansen. I changed how we do new hire orientation. We used to tediously read through a giant paper-filled binder. Now, we have implemented a partially interactive power-point. We also have checklists for the new employee to follow and we now check up on the employees more often after they are hired.

The administrator asked me to put together an appreciation group for the employees. I gathered two STNAs to help me with employee appreciation activities and ideas. We got a budget approved for what we wanted to do each month. The two STNAs and I meet twice a month (or more) and we collaborate to make an employee calendar of special events. Some of the things we do consist of: birthday recognition, birthday cake each month, a guessing jar full of goodies, fun national holidays (national puppy day, national something on a stick day, jelly bean day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, etc.) We have themed days and there’s always food and drinks. We started an employee shout out board and we draw an employee’s ‘shout out’ at the end of the month and they get a gift card. What we found was that the little things that we do for the employees really can add up and help with happiness, attitude, bonding, teamwork, retention, and many other things.

The facility was interested in having me do this project because they want to improve their staff retention. In long term care and in any facility, there has been a shortage of workers. We are working to overcome those struggles and we are trying to get our staff well trained and help them feel more appreciated.

We have not hired many people during the time that I have been here so I have not gotten to do as much with the onboarding as I wished, but I think that it helped the business office manager when she does the new-employee orientations. She tweaked it to fit her needs. The appreciation activities have changed month to month to fit with what the employees are more interested in. When we first started the activities, we did not know what the other employees were going to participate in and how much to buy and now we have a great idea of what/how much to buy. I constructed a survey for the employees to fill out. This survey will help me see if the activities have impacted the employees positively.

There are going to be obstacles with anything that you try to change in a facility. Many people have been here for a long time and so changing the orientation process and implementing new things was a struggle. We also had some negative things written on the shout out board so I have had to take down some things and have chats with some workers. We also went over budget for one month, but stayed way under budget the next month. Things are ever changing in a facility. You just need to learn how to adapt to them.

I have had many opportunities during this internship. Because of the project at work, I was able work with a budget, practice with conflict solution, meet the STNAs and workers of every shift and learn more about them with the appreciation activities as an ice breaker. I got to read and learn about onboarding, a process that I hadn’t even heard of prior to this internship.
I learned a lot through the Ohio Scholars in Aging program. I was honored to be selected. I learned more about Medicaid and Medicare and different programs that help older adults. I got to meet so many different people that will someday be colleagues of mine. It was a great networking opportunity. The state house viewing was fantastic. It was an opportunity that I will never forget.

I would just like to extend my gratitude and thanks to everyone who made this program possible.