Exciting news! One of our valued extern site partners, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, is opening an Express Care Clinic inside our Carrington College Boise campus this month. I spoke with Linda Whitener, Express Care Facility Medical Director and Family Nurse Practitioner, about this exciting development as well as our ongoing extern partnership with the Saint Alphonsus Health System.
So tell us a little about Saint Alphonsus and Express Care.
Saint Alphonsus was the first hospital in Boise, it opened in 1894. It was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Cross who were dedicated to bringing health care to the poor and underserved. Now known as the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, it’s a 381 bed facility. We also have a system of health and wellness services in the communities around our region.
Our Express Care clinics are part of that community health system; each location has a provider who can assess, diagnose and treat basic medical conditions for one flat fee. The Carrington location will be our third Express Care.
Tell us how you came to open a location in the Carrington Boise campus.
The idea was presented to us by Carrington leadership and it just seemed to make good sense. It is located across the freeway from our main hospital and can provide overflow for our Urgent Care and Emergency Department when needed. It’s also midway between our other Express Care Clinics, providing better access for the community.
What are the biggest benefits of this new clinic for all involved?
This location will be convenient for the Medical Assisting students because some of them will be able to do their externship hours right here on the campus. In addition, the students and faculty, along with their families, will have access to convenient, affordable walk-in health care. This is a nice complement to the low-cost dental clinic that Carrington currently offers to their students and members of the community.
Tell us more about the extern relationship with Carrington?
Carrington had an affiliation agreement in place with the hospital to provide externs, so we tapped into that existing relationship. Carrington Medical Assisting students have been very helpful over the last couple of years, allowing us to perform our functions with more efficiency.
How many externs do you think you’ve taken?
We have worked with about 20 externs. Each one does 180 hours of clinicals with us. We are changing our model of patient flow at Express Care and recently hired three Carrington Medical Assisting (MA) graduates. The campus Express Care location will be our only extern site going forward.
What kind of things do extern students do on site?
At the Carrington site the externs will be getting the patient ready for the provider. They will gather information on chief complaint, medications, social and surgical history. They will also do vital signs, point of care testing, injections and tuberculin screenings. We are open 7 days a week so the students will have flexibility with scheduling their hours.
What are students’ expectations of being hired on after the externship?
Up until this last set of externs that came through, everyone knew they weren’t going to get a job in our clinics because we were not able to offer any positions. Overall we’ve had some very good quality externs that we would have loved to hire, but some were successful in gaining positions in other parts of the St Alphonsus Health system, so that’s good for them and us.
What’s the single biggest thing you look for in an extern?
I look for the soft skills, someone who is warm, welcoming, thoughtful and helpful. First impressions are very important to the patient. If I can find those qualities, and they have the other obvious clinical skills, that’s what I want.
During the extern interview, what are you looking for in particular?
My first impression of them is how they look. Do they smile? Do they make eye contact? Are they neatly dressed? Do they carry themselves with confidence? How do they communicate? What experiences of life do they bring with them? How do they articulate some problem solving skills?
A lot of people that we see are new patients; often we’re their first contact with Saint Alphonsus or the medical community. So what they see and how they’re treated is really important, not only for us in Express Care, but the whole hospital system. The MA extern can set the tone for the entire visit.
In your experience, how do Carrington students measure up?
I would say that it’s hard to rate that. Each student brings their own qualities, personalities and work ethic. The students are generally well trained in the clinical skills. The faculty does monitor their progress during the externship and intervene if needed.
We know they are novices in their field when they come to us, so all the providers appreciate being able to help them along in their learning journey. “You have to be bad before you can be good.” We just appreciate these students, many of them juggling family life, school and work, but wanting to improve their lives by learning new skills. We look forward to continuing and growing our partnership with Carrington College.
Thanks again for your time Linda. The Express Care Clinic at the Carrington College Boise campus is due to open in the last week of February.