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)
North Hills, CA
Paul West
Student Name: Jennifer L. Taylor
Year: 2005

Health education is a powerful means of connecting patients to their healthcare. Patients who are more informed about their health tend to be more satisfied with their healthcare experience and more compliant with treatment regimens. As a health education intern for the Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System of Greater Los Angeles, I witnessed the beneficial effects of health education on a daily basis. From June 20 to September 16, 2005, I worked in the Patient Education Resource Center (PERC) at the Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center under the guidance of Paul West, Director of PERC and the VA Patient Education Coordinator for all of Greater Los Angeles. During this time I worked with a variety of staff members, including other health education interns, physicians, social workers, nurses, desk clerks, dietitians, pharmacists, and counselors to educate the veteran population served by this clinic on issues related to their health and well-being.

During my tenure as a health education intern I was responsible for many of the daily, weekly, and monthly activities of the PERC. Everyday I used internet research, books, and health brochures to educate patients during one-on-one health counseling sessions. I developed new course curricula and incorporated existing class outlines, PowerPoint presentations, educational handouts, anatomical and food models, posters, and videos into weekly health education classes in an adult day care outpatient facility, as well as monthly classes in the Chemical Dependency unit. I facilitated a monthly support group for veterans with lung disease, as well as wrote and distributed their monthly newsletter. I also conducted health assessments on new patients at the WellVet clinic, helped run the weekly Stop Smoking Clinic, spoke to new medical residents about the importance of health education, taught a blood pressure education class, initiated an evaluation of patient use at PERC, and helped reorganize the layout of the entire Patient Education Resource Center.

My experiences at the VA taught me a lot about the benefits, as well as limitations of health education. I learned how to be resourceful under budgetary constraints, confidant about delivering health information, and tolerant when working with challenging patient populations. This internship was a mutually beneficial experience for me, the PERC, and the patients we served.


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