My Career: Advocating for Children and Families as an IBC Summer Intern
For many years, the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing has sent an exceptional student-nurse to Independence Blue Cross (IBC) as an intern at their non-profit, Nurse-Family Partnership. In 2019, that student was Christina Gallo, a senior from Norwood, New Jersey who is just as invested in her nursing career as she is in her Villanova experience. The Nursing Internship Program is an initiative sponsored by Independence and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation (IBC Foundation). The College spoke with Gallo about her experience with IBC and what it means to be a next-generation nurse.
Q: What about the IBC program interested you?
Gallo: My previous experiences caring for homeless children in high school sparked my interest in this internship and enabled me to push my boundaries. I had the opportunity to work in the field of public health and home visiting nursing in the Philadelphia area. This experience educated me about the importance of caring for our community in different ways whether it be through advocacy or assessments.
Q: What experience left the greatest impact on you?
Gallo: During my time at Nurse-Family Partnership, I learned that we as nurses are the advocate for patients with every issue that can affect their health. I was able to partake at city council meetings informing the public about the unsafe lead levels in homes throughout Philadelphia. This summer has truly taught me about my voice as part of the next generation of nurses, especially when I was able to voice my thoughts at the Future of Nursing 2020/2030 Town Hall Meeting.
Q: What types of projects did you work on as an intern?
Gallo: Independence Blue Cross Foundation and CHOP hosted leadership labs for the interns to learn about the importance of taking action and increasing our knowledge. In these labs, we fostered our ideas and put them into action by completing research in various nursing and health care areas. My research focused on what services and healthy play/food options are available in areas of Philadelphia with low socioeconomic status. I found that food deserts, or a lack of healthy food options, and safe playgrounds deserts are closely linked and are present in many of the northern and southern areas of Philly. In an effort to relieve the strain in some of these areas, I proposed an 'adopt a park' program for companies to clean up a park periodically throughout the year and plant healthy vegetables in a community garden to try to aid in the creation of safe, healthy play and food options for residents.
Q: What is next on your career path?
Gallo: As for what the future holds, I am open to the different possibilities that nursing holds and exploring every avenue in order to try to care for the most amount of people. I am a next-generation nurse and am excited to impact the lives of many.
Q: What advice would you give underclassmen looking for an externship experience?
Gallo: I would advise underclassmen not to limit their horizons on what a nurse does just to work inside the hospital or medical practice. There is a world of possibilities out there for nurses, and as the next generation of nurses it is up to us to explore them in every way we can.