Adventist Health System, with hospitals in Colorado and Kansas, provides significant financial support to Union
College—through supporting various projects, establishing an endowed chair in the Division of Business and Computer Science, funding buildings and equipment and providing leadership on the Board of Trustees
And AHS also looks for ways to directly impact Union students and help them find a calling and a career. Through an intentional leadership development program, AHS provides internships and residency programs for Union business students, many of whom have gone on to become leaders throughout the organization.
The not-so-typical summer internship
The stereotypical internship is all about fetching coffee and doing grunt work for superiors. But Union College students chosen for Adventist Health System internships find their experiences can propel them into coveted residency positions and meaningful careers.
Katie Morrison ’17 completed a summer internship and is now entering the last half of a two-year residency.
“My summer internship gave me a lot of exposure to different teams and a wider look at health care than just the clinical side,” she said. “Coming into it, I couldn’t picture myself in health care because I didn’t know the opportunities. But I got to work in marketing and with physician relations, as well as clinical operations. All summer, I met so many individuals who showed me patience and energy and compassion, and working with those people caused me to apply for the residency.”
After her internship, Morrison returned to Union and stepped into another role—office manager in the business division. It was the first time a student had filled that role, and Morrison found the experience strengthened her abilities. “I had to balance the roles of student and staff. It was a different experience to have
dual identities, but it prepared me for coming into my residency. I am constantly balancing roles and responsibilities.”
During her internship and residency, Morrison says she’s been challenged every day to bring her best to the job and experience the departments and teams she’s been a part of. “The whole point of the internship is to get a feel for the industry and find out if it’s the long-term place for you,” she said. “Then, the residency is here to launch your career. It’s all about investing and instilling value and knowledge into young professionals to generate the next wave of leadership. It’s been the start of everything for me.”
New graduate Justin Cook ’18 spent the summer of 2017 interning with Adventist Health System, where he
discovered revenue cycle, an area of finance that tracks patients from registration through payment. “I don’t see myself as a traditional accountant, so working in a unique department really appeals to me,” he said. “I like to interact with people—and revenue cycle lets me do that.” He shares that in one internship rotation, he spent time in the emergency room, where he got to talk with patients as they went through the registration and treatment process. “That was a really cool experience,” he said. “It was hands-on learning.”
In fact, he did so well in his internship he was offered a residency position in the same department, something he credits to his college experience.
“Union gave me opportunities to grow—as a leader and as a person. That would have been difficult to get at a larger school,” said Cook, who served as ASB Financial Vice President his junior year. “I also learned how to conduct myself in a professional environment. My classes taught me how to dress and act in the business world, and how to prepare reports. Having this knowledge going into my internship gave me an advantage.”
He says his interactions with professors also shaped his future. “Lisa Forbes, my adviser, helped me a lot. She’s fun, but she’s always professional. She gave me the complete picture.”
Even the community at Union helped him strengthen his skills. “During my internship, it was easy to talk with people one on one because that’s what Union teaches you. I learned to be a personable part of the family. I took those lessons and transitioned them to my internship, and I’ll be able to transition them to my residency and career.”
Gina Jacob Creek ’03, director of leadership development at Adventist Health System, oversees leadership
programs, including internships and residencies. “My responsibility is recruiting and creating opportunities for Adventist talent to find a home and a calling with Adventist Health System,” she said. “I get to tell college students there is a true calling for the gifts they’ve been given. If they are fantastic at math or have great business acumen, they don’t have to subvert those talents to fully minister to others. They can put those skills to use for something that goes beyond life here on Earth.”
Every year, Creek is the main point of contact for nearly 50 interns and 11 residents, including Morrison and Cook. And while she recruits and mentors students from other Adventist colleges, her heart remains with Union.
“Students from Union graduate with a dive-in-and-get-it-done attitude,” she says. “That’s part of the experience of being at Union. The faculty don’t tell you what to do; they come alongside you, remove the barriers, and empower you.” Creek said she tries to help Union students understand they have an advantage in life just by being Unionites. “I always reinforce that to students—take full advantage of the differentiator Union has in its DNA. Immerse yourselves in it, and show up with it. It sets you apart.”
By Lauren Bongard Schwartz ’04