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Summer Internships: Fatmata Sesay '23

September 20, 2022
Selfie of Fetama Sesay with internship badge

Name: Fatmata Sesay
Class Year: 2023
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Houston, Texas

Internship Organization: Legacy Community Health Clinic
Job Title: Health Advocate Student Intern
Location: Houston, Texas

What’s happening at your internship? We would love to hear what kind of work you are doing!

A patient's medical needs are commonly assessed when they enter a clinic or hospital. But in addition to their medical needs, a patient may have several additional needs. I am a health advocate at Legacy Community Health Clinic, where I assist patients in obtaining assistance with both their medical and, if necessary, social needs. Each day, my coworkers and I divide the schedule evenly, with each of us having our own number of patients. Whenever any of my patients arrive for their appointment, I offer them a social needs screening questionnaire. The social needs screening questionnaire will assist me in determining whether the patient is seeking assistance with the social determinants of health (SDoH) such as food, housing, utilities, or transportation. In the event that one of my patients tests positive for one of the listed SDoH, it is my responsibility to thoroughly research and provide local resources that will help the patient. However, patients' circumstances may occasionally alter as a result of unsuccessful resources. Having said that, it is essential that I keep the patient in the loop by communicating with them in a manner that will suit their preferences in order to make sure that, if not all of their needs, then at least some of them are being addressed.

Why did you apply for this internship?

As a child, I saw firsthand how hard it was for my family, friends, neighbors, and I to obtain the assistance we required to get by each day since I was raised in a low-income, disadvantaged, and marginalized community. I was drawn to apply for the internship when I saw that Legacy Community Health Clinic is committed to bringing about change in underserved, disadvantageous, or low-income communities.

Fatma Sesay with other interns

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

During my internship, my favorite moments have been when patients have told me that the resources I shared with them have helped them and their families. I am elated just by the delight in their remarks considering how sad they were when they initially tested positive for SDoH determinants.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

As a health advocate, I interact with a lot of patients who come to the clinic for their medical needs. Despite their similarities, I noticed one significant difference: the story that each patient carried. At first, I distinctly recall seeing and speculating that the patients' circumstances might not be as dire or fortunate. But as time progressed, I recognized that my way of thinking was problematic, particularly given my position at the clinic. Sometimes the patient who appears to be under no stress is actually the most stressed. However, you will not realize the difference until you hear their narratives.

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.