Summer Internships: Diana Salmeron '24
Name: Diana Salmeron
Class Year: 2024
Major: Anthropology and Spanish
Hometown: Houston, TX
Internship Organization: Durrett Chiropractor and Wellness Clinic
Job Title: Medical Assistant
Location: Houston, TX
What’s happening at your internship?
My internship consists of working at a chiropractic clinic and being a medical assistant. As a medical assistant my responsibilities comprises of working with patients, scheduling appointments, translating documents and information to patients, developing X-rays, maintaining medical records, billing, and running the therapy room when needed. The therapy room consists of a massage table, disc decompression therapy– also known as COX– and the infrasonic ultrasound kyogens. Each therapy plays a vital role in being able to provide immediate relief to patients in severe pain, depending on the severity of pain which determines the levels of therapy. At the clinic we pride ourselves on being able to provide a holistic approach to healthcare by focusing on the root of the problem and addressing those issues. We educate our patients on what chiropractic care is and how our body is interconnected and works as one to function properly.
Every month at the chiropractic clinic we have a monthly goal of our gross income, the number of new patients we want to help, our insurance billing, and how many people we want for therapy. This past month in June we reached our monthly gross income and were able to get in many new patients. Being goal oriented is extremely important when running a business because it allows the entire clinic to be on the same page and have the same mindset. Having a goal allows us to work as a team to accomplish that goal. Our team has designated roles, and although we are small, we are mighty.
I have really enjoyed working with this clinic because they truly have a passion for helping and caring for their patients. Our clinic tries the best we can to truly get every patient that walks through the door some relief and care. We try very hard to be as accommodating as possible and work out payment plans, other payment alternatives like care credit – a healthcare credit care – and discounted plans when possible. There have been many instances that we have not charged certain patients because we have placed them on a trial run to see if they would like to continue to receive the care and relief they need and to show them that they do receive relief when they are on their proper treatment. Seeing this play out demonstrates that this clinic truly cares about the well-being and health of the patients they encounter. It is not only talk, but there have been actions that back up the claims of wanting to help people.
My time at the clinic, I have also learned that to be a healthcare provider is to be an advocate and educator for your patients. Another important value I have learned while being at the clinic is to inform the patient on what kind of care chiropractors provide. We have many simple models to demonstrate to patients what a manual decompression and alignment of the spine is– also known as an adjustment– how subluxations cause pain and can impair the full functionality of your body, and how each therapy we use can help boost healing and immunity throughout your body. Many of the patients we encounter do not have prior knowledge of chiropractic care, therefore it is extremely important to be able to let the patient in on the work and treatment that is being done to their body. This also aids in the patient feeling comfortable and safe when visiting and meeting the doctor for the first time. At Durrett Chiropractor we aim to develop an interpersonal relationship with the patient regarding mind, body, and emotions.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied to this internship because recently I have been questioning if I would like to continue to pursue medicine. Since I was 5, I claimed I wanted to become a surgeon to help people and being a first-generation student only pushed the idea that the only way to be successful and help people is by being a doctor. Growing up, it was extremely difficult to explore or be exposed to different careers therefore, I only heard of the popular careers. It has not been until recently that I have been able to finally explore the many careers and opportunities that are out there. Therefore, when I applied to this internship I wanted to dive into different types of medicine and uncover my desire before I abandon this life-long dream of pursuing medicine. Another reason why I applied for this internship is because I wanted to have the opportunity to reflect on my future career pathway by being present in a clinic. Being in the Covid class, it has been extremely difficult to have a traditional in-person internship especially in healthcare, therefore I wanted to be exposed to clinical experience to have certainty and the determination on the pathway I would like to pursue.
What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?
Something that I have learned from my internship that I did not expect is how insurance works. Interning at a private clinic has been extremely eye opening because I have worked with patients from a very diverse socioeconomic background ranging from private insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, victims in accidents, people who use state resources like the Houston Health Gold Card, etc. I have been able to see how healthcare is a much broader and intricate system that can sometimes impair people from receiving certain aid. I am going to be completely honest; it has been a little discouraging working at the clinic and understanding how insurance works. What I have learned is that many of the times, insurance does not cover much of chiropractic care, especially when the chiropractor is out-of-network. Sometimes the patient may have a high deductible of $10,000 and it is not until that deductible is met that the insurance will either help cover some visit, if any. Therefore, understanding this knowledge makes it extremely difficult for the patient to receive the care they need. Now, on the doctor’s side, if the insurance is a PPO, then there could be a possibility that they may help cover some chiropractic care, but most of the time the insurance companies end up paying the doctor's half of what they charge. For example, the adjustment price for the clinic I work at is $55, but when insurance is involved, they will only pay the doctor $23, therefore the doctor must work harder to be able to receive a stable income. I believe having this understanding of how healthcare works has been the most difficult part of the internship, especially being a person that believes that everyone deserves quality healthcare no matter the background, socioeconomic status, race, gender, identity, culture, etc.
What is most rewarding about your internship?
The most rewarding part about my internship is being able to help people and see the change immediately. There have been many instances where I see patients who walk through our clinic in excruciating pain, but when they walk out, they are in a lot less pain and certain immobility have been corrected. Many of the patients coming in are desperate to get relief and when they go through their therapy and see the immediate results, they continue coming back and demonstrate their gratitude to
us by providing us with food. Receiving food is just some of the many benefits of working with our patients! I have been able to truly enjoy my time at the internship because I have been able to connect with all the patients on an interpersonal level and see the progress of when they first arrived until they complete their treatment. Serving and caring for my Houston community has been the most rewarding part of my internship!
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.