Riley Carpenter

Ohio University

Summer 2016

“I learned that there is a career in this field of collaboration among older adults, leadership and healthcare that I am passionate about.”

This summer I had an opportunity of a lifetime to intern at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. The opportunities were endless in this place due to how large this hospital is. I worked specifically in the Office of Patient Experience where the main focus was improving patient satisfaction in all areas. Another focus of this office was future focused and looking to see where the healthcare industry was going and how that will affect patients and their care. Although there was no direct focus in gerontology, my interest in gerontology led me to ask the right questions to the right people. Aside from assisting Project Managers and running Data Analytics, I also had informational interviews with various administrators, doctors and executives at the Clinic.

Throughout my studies the idea of intergenerational relations has always caught my eye. The question of, “How will the culture and societal norms of the millennial generation affect the care of baby boomers?” Now, this question is one that would usually spark a 2-hour conversation but I will save you all the time and give you the spark notes. When I presented this question to many individuals they usually would respond with, “Give me a little more context.” So, how will the two cultures collide when it comes time for the millennials to care for the baby boomers?

Healthcare for the baby boomers has been something many have anticipated for quite some time. Questions like, “Do we add more bed space? Do we build more hospitals then take them down after this generation? How will the industry be able to accommodate this large of a generation?” But the question of “What will the patient experience or patient satisfaction rate be when individuals who have a difficult time interacting face to face are caring for individuals who expect and demand face to face interaction?” is one that I felt wasn’t asked as often. This led to many interesting conversations and ideas about how the healthcare system will go about tackling this mountain. Not to mention the extreme rate of technological integration within the healthcare system paired with an extreme rate of computer illiteracy among the older adult population.

This internship provided me with extremely valuable individuals who were able to connect with me on this level and provide fruitful conversations about these issues. The individuals were interested in this idea and soon to be project because they are a leading force in healthcare as well as a leading force in patient experience. The sooner we come to a conclusion about these issues, the better healthcare will be.

I learned that there is a career in this field of collaboration among older adults, leadership and healthcare that I am passionate about. I will hopefully be returning to the clinic at the end of the fall semester pending graduating with a degree in Health Communication Studies. By participating in the Scholars in Aging Program I learned that there are so many more opportunities that lie within gerontology. It has provided me with an immense amount of resources and first-hand knowledge. This summer was by far one of the most enriching times of my life. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and look forward to attending the OAGE conference!