UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program


Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Patient Education Resource Center (PERC)
Location:
North Hills, CA
Preceptor:
Paul West
Student Name: Janice Holm
Year: 2005

My field studies experience was carried out at the Veterans Administration (VA) Greater Los Angeles (GLA) Healthcare System, primarily at the Sepulveda campus. As an intern at the Patient Education Resource Center (PERC) at the Sepulveda VA Ambulatory Care Center, I had the opportunity to participate in various health promotion activities under the guidance of Paul West, the director of health education for the GLA VA.

During my time as an intern, I facilitated an ongoing health education class to our geriatric patients in the CARE Unit, a nursing home day care program. Conducting these classes involved selecting an appropriate health topic, researching the topic, and presenting the material in a format that would be easy for the elderly patients to understand. Along with another intern, I also taught a health education class once a month to our veterans in the Chemical Dependency Unit on relevant topics, such as smoking cessation, Hepatitis, nutrition, and TB. Another class that was held once a month was given to the medical residents about the PERC and health education. At this talk, we demonstrated to the residents how they could access health education materials through the VA intranet and how they could refer their patients for classes and further health education.

In addition to conducting health education classes, I was involved with the facilitation of a pulmonary disease patient support group. The preparation for this support group involved the recruitment of an appropriate guest speaker and the design and dissemination of a newsletter discussing the month’s chosen health topic. During the summer, such topics included exercise, recreational therapy, and nutrition for pulmonary diseases.

I was also involved with counseling patients at the PERC’s Smoking Cessation Clinic and served as a health educator at our WellVet Clinic, an clinic for new VA patients that is provided to orient them to the services offered at Sepulveda VA Ambulatory Care Center.

In addition to the ongoing activities at the Sepulveda VA, I also helped one of the other interns with the implementation of the West Los Angeles (WLA) VA PERC and in the preparation for its grand opening. This involved promotion of the PERC to patients and staff at the WLA VA as well as organizing the new center.

My internship experience at the VA has taught me the importance of patient education and especially the importance of communicating health information in an understandable and compassionate manner. This experience has also taught me how to communicate effectively with professionals from various disciplines, including pharmacy, medicine, dietetics, and social work. I chose this internship in order to gain health education experience through teaching classes and individual counseling. I believe strongly in preventive medicine and health education serves as a strong tool for promoting prevention.

 

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