“A Day in the Life” by Ria Jagasia

Intern Spotlight

Jagasia, Ria Work Site Photo

Who: Ria Jagasia

Capstone Term: Spring 2017

Site: Quality, Safety, and Risk Prevention – Vanderbilt University Medical Center


What was your role as an intern?

My role as an intern varied from shadowing executives in the various QSRP departments to being an extra hand for QSRP staff by working on ongoing projects. I was able to focus on gathering data for my organizational analysis work which helped greatly when I was choosing a capstone project idea. Because of the wide network within QSRP, I was able to interact with staff that had a variety of roles in promoting the mission of quality and safety in patient care within the Medical Center.


What was your capstone design project for your HOD internship?

My capstone project focused on the idea of having a “Culture of Safety” within the Medical Center workplace. Having such a culture means that employees, regardless of their seniority in the organization, feel comfortable communicating with each other about issues that may arise. The goal was that medical staff will work together to prioritize the safety of a patient over other competing goals or obstacles. What I found through my data gathering process was that there was tension in the form of hierarchy barriers between nursing staff and physicians which meant nurses would be reluctant to speak up when a physician was making a mistake. For example, nurses may see doctors deliver the wrong medication or wrong dosage to the patient and not be confident enough to speak up in the presence of more experienced physician staff. This can complicate patient care and thus I saw a need to address this issue. I designed a set of online modules titled “Creating a Culture of Safety” that had sections designed to inform nurses about the importance of having a Culture of Safety and of potential communication barriers. My goal was to empower nurses to start making changes in their behaviors so that they may increase the quality of patient care via open communication with physician staff.


What was one of the highlights from your internship experience?

One of the highlights of my experience was being able to dive into the field of quality improvement as it was not an area I had realized existed in the healthcare space. I realized how vital it is to the way healthcare services are delivered. While QSRP had a wide network of teams, each team had an important role in driving the quality of patient care from the data teams that gathered and made sense of large amounts of patient data to other groups which were improving the use of space within the clinics to increase efficiency of care. Having experienced other internships within the Medical Center, I can definitely say this was the most rewarding experience as the information and toolkit I built over the semester was transferrable since quality improvement is important across all service industries.


How have you grown as a result of your internship? / How will this internship impact your future (i.e. change career, landed a job)?

As I am currently working abroad in China after graduating early from Vanderbilt, I can definitely see how experiencing a professional work environment during college has aided in my transition to my current job. While I am working in the education industry, which is very different from the healthcare industry, the professionalism skills I gained from my internship experience has helped. I can better integrate with my coworkers and, having gone through the organizational analysis process at my internship site, I am more aware of organizational structures in my current workplace. Being able to figure out how teams work and how roles are divided here has made it easier to find my place. I also am more aware of the issues in our organization’s work and have brainstormed some improvement projects that I would like to work on.


What are 3 pieces of advice for someone in the process of their internship search?

  1. While you don’t have to take on an internship in the field you would like your future occupation to be in, it is important to be able to transfer your skills from your internship to a future job. Be considering what types of skills you need in the field you intend to work in and pick an internship that can help you acquire those.
  2. Use the search process to familiarize yourself with the names of companies in your industry of interest. Even if you are looking for internships sites within Nashville, but intend to work elsewhere after college, many companies in the city have branches elsewhere so the research you do will certainly be valuable down the road.
  3. All interviews are great experience. I remember having one of my first phone interviews during the internship search experience and while I did not land up interning with that site, I was able to practice my phone interview skills. Many jobs conduct first-round interviews over Skype or the phone so its important to get that practice in before interviewing for your actual job!


How does the HOD capstone internship compare to other internships you have had?

I felt my capstone internship was more valuable as it was full-time unlike many of my previous internships I had held, and I got to really know the organization as a result. I also liked being able to experience many different sides of quality improvement as it was a field I knew little about before that semester. In addition, I developed more a more professional skillset that I can use in my current and future jobs.