Special to the Herald
Editor’s note: This story is part of an occasional series highlighting senior interns in Cranston Public Schools.
When Cranston High School West senior Pilar DaLomba decided she was interested in an internship, she was more than willing to go the extra mile to obtain what she wanted.
DaLomba is also a student in the Medical Pathways program at the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center, or CACTC. Prior to last summer, she had learned of an internship at Hasbro Hospital for students who had their CNA certification.
Although earning a CNA certification in time for graduation is part of DaLomba’s program at CACTC, she had not yet reached that part of the program. Not wanting to see an opportunity pass her by, she signed up for an Adult Education program twice a week for four months in order to get her CNA certification ahead of her peers at CACTC, and secured her internship at Hasbro as well.
The Seacole Scholar Program at Hasbro was a paid nursing internship for youth CNAs that began when school ended for the summer. It ran Monday through Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with workshops weekly on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. all summer long.
“I saw this not only as an opportunity for an internship but also as an opportunity to work as a CNA when I am in college,” DaLomba said. “I want to go to nursing school and having this would be a tremendous help.”
DaLomba was in the medical surgical unit, which services children ages 0-21. The oldest patient she saw was 19.
“I got to watch unit procedures like the cleaning of a central line, and I learned about all different diseases and how they present themselves,” she said. “I also got to be with the patients and help to make them more comfortable, because being there can be traumatic. The Friday workshops helped me gain more professional skills that will help me, like networking skills and interview skills for when I interview for a position. I learned how to portray myself in a job interview and in the workplace. I learned about things like microaggression in the workplace and body language.”
She also saw cases of appendicitis and psych admissions where patients were there for multiple weeks at a time.
“I really saw a lot,” she said.
DaLomba left with an increased awareness and a new perspective that she didn’t necessarily expect.
“This experience taught me to be grateful for what I have, because I saw kids my own age and kids younger than me that were there. I saw a patient who was assaulted by their sibling and didn’t feel safe going home,” she said. “I knew that things like this happened, but I didn’t believe I’d actually see it, and yet it happens all the time.”
As a student in the Medical Pathways program at CACTC, DaLomba felt very prepared for her internship and saw many of the skills she had learned in her program coming up on the job.
“I saw a lot of the diseases we studied, a lot of the ethics we had talked about, and I got to see and understand what it meant when we talked about hearing crackles in someone’s lungs, for example,” she said. “I also saw everything from the first year of our program when I completed the CNA course. It surprised me how alike the courses were, and a lot of the doctors and nurses were surprised at what I knew just from Medical Pathways.”
DaLomba was a standout student during one unexpected visit from an infectious disease team, also thanks to her prior training.
“They came onto our floor and did a surprise inspection,” she said. “We were all in our infectious disease gear, including the medical students. I was the only one who took it all off correctly. I was just 16 at the time and they were so impressed.”
The internship opportunity made DaLomba certain that she has chosen the correct path for the next steps in her educational journey.
“This made me realize that this is where I want to be, that this is what I want to do,” she said. “I had these experiences while I was young so that I don’t go to college for nursing, only to realize it’s not where I want to be.”
DaLomba has applied to several schools and hopes to get her doctorate in nursing practice and to go on and be a nurse practitioner with a doctorate.
For more information on the Medical Pathways program at CACTC, visit cpsed.net/cactc. To learn more about the Seacole Scholar Program, visit lifespan.org/careers.