Temple University Hospital – "At Your Service" Volunteer Intern Program

The “At Your Service” (AYS) Volunteer Intern Program is an innovative, cost-neutral program that provides undergraduate students with an invaluable learning and professional experience, while simultaneously aiding the Temple University Hospital (TUH) community in enhancing patient satisfaction. As this novel program has matured, AYS interns have integrated into ongoing performance improvement initiatives based on their areas of interest. Student interns have collaborated with surgeons on research projects, with nursing leadership on improving the delivery of care, and with the TUH CEO to present at leadership meetings. The program incorporates interns into daily operations of TUH and addresses patient issues while rounding. The AYS Volunteer Intern Program teaches future health care providers and industry professionals about hospital operations, empathy, and effective communication with health care providers, patients and families.

Overview

The “At Your Service” (AYS) Volunteer Intern Program is an innovative, cost-neutral program that provides undergraduate students with an invaluable learning and professional experience, while simultaneously aiding the Temple University Hospital (TUH) community in enhancing patient satisfaction. As this novel program has matured, AYS interns have integrated into ongoing performance improvement initiatives based on their areas of interest. Student interns have collaborated with surgeons on research projects, with nursing leadership on improving the delivery of care, and with the TUH CEO to present at leadership meetings. The program incorporates interns into daily operations of TUH and addresses patient issues while rounding. The AYS Volunteer Intern Program teaches future health care providers and industry professionals about hospital operations, empathy, and effective communication with health care providers, patients and families.

Impact

Based on census, patient feedback and needs of the inpatient units, the Office of Patient Experience initiated the AYS Volunteer Intern Program as a summer 2014 pilot with 15 undergraduate interns. As a result of the pilot’s success, volunteer interns were deployed throughout the institution and were preferentially assigned to units with the highest potential for improvement. By fall 2014, the AYS Volunteer Intern Program received approximately 350 applications for 50 positions. In comparing the “Always” patient score for staff responsiveness before and after initiation of the program, a statistically significant increase was observed (55.7% vs 60.3%). Because of the increased engagement and student participation in the program, the HCAHPS Responsiveness of Staff domain scores increased significantly from the start of the program in fiscal year 2013 and continuing through the most recent fiscal year, 2017. The mean “Always” scores for staff responsiveness for TUH were 53.8% in FY13, 57.4% in FY14, 58.6% in FY15, 60.3% in FY16 and 61% in FY17 (YTD).

Lessons Learned

Enhancements to the program have continued since its inception. Nursing continues to integrate interns into daily operations. AYS interns have expanded their role from rounding on inpatient units to now responding to call bells at nursing stations. Interns also round in the emergency department (ED) as well as in several outpatient areas; they are very involved in daily operations of the Cancer Center, Radiology, the Sleep Center, Pre-Admission Testing and the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. The interns have been an integral part in accommodating the increased demand of the highly successful Temple Outpatient Pharmacy. The CEO of TUH invited the interns to present their experiences and projects at leadership meetings. The interns have also presented at Patient Experience Committee meetings. Leadership invited interns to participate in the Cultural Diversity Symposium and an annual TUH fundraising Gala.

Interns are now utilized as part of Meaningful Use and the inpatient Epic (electronic medical record) implementation. The program has even expanded to other hospitals within the Temple University Health System (TUHS) with interns rounding in the ED at Temple’s Episcopal Hospital. Intern feedback has also led to more streamlined processes. One such example is the application process, which began as a mostly paper process and now is available on the TUH main website along with information about the program. This change has helped accommodate the continued increase in intern applications.

Future Goals

In FY17, AYS interns began rounding on families in ICU units and waiting areas, providing information on the various hospitality services that TUH offers and escalating any questions or concerns to staff. A survey was created with collaboration from the ICU Director of Nursing and the Office of Patient Experience utilizing AYS interns to collect feedback from the families and partners in care regarding their experience on the ICU units and waiting areas. The data being collected is used to improve various facilities and service-related features on the units. In the current FY18, the Office of Patient Experience continues to expand the program by further involving the North Philadelphia community in which Temple University Hospital is located. As TUHS continues on its journey of Patient and Family Centered Care, TUH’s Office of Patient Experience intends to utilize the “At Your Service” interns for various upcoming projects focused on patient and family engagement.

Contact: Danielle London
Supervisor, Patient/Family Engagement
Telephone: 215-707-3219
Email: danielle.london@tuhs.temple.edu

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