Guest Post: Socially Focused First Year Project

Blog Guest, April 05, 2013 | 0 comments
Tags: First Year Project, Research Centers & Initiatives, business and society, internship, first year, Healthcare, Social Impact

Summer Bailey, along with four other T’14s, recently traveled to the Chippewa Indians Reservation in North Dakota for a Research Travel Project as well as their First Year Project.  Their focus was on maximizing insurance revenue at the Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility and making healthcare resources more available to the community.

Sponsored by the Center for Business and Society, the Research Travel Program is open to all students who want to pursue hands on, meaningful research for their environmental or socially focused First Year Project (FYP) or independent study over spring break. Successful projects are chosen on the merit of an application and awarded funds to support travel. Projects can be individual or in teams, and be regional, national or international in scope.

Summer shares some of her team's experiences;
On the morning of our departure from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Reservation, our team gathered in the dining room of the converted convent where we had stayed during our visit. Over a delicious breakfast of homemade pancakes, we took a moment to reflect on our experiences. One of the things that stood out the most to us was the warm, kind reception we received both at the Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility and in the community at large. In particular, we were deeply touched by the generosity of the staff at QNB— the facility throwing us a potluck lunch of wonderful traditional cuisine, a staff member offering us her family’s winter outerwear in case we wanted to go snow tubing, and a hospital driver going the extra (several hundred) miles out of his way to make sure that one of our team members caught her flight.
We were also struck by the cultural pride and willingness to share we met with in the community at large. For example, while visiting the local youth center, we were invited to join in a culture night where we enjoyed listening to traditional singing, drumming and cultural teachings. At the end of the evening all of the kids in attendance got in line to say hello and shake our hands. The warm reception we received throughout our stay was all the more touching to us in the context of the issues faced daily by many members of the reservation community, such as a lack of available jobs in the area resulting in 65% unemployment, a high rate of drug and alcohol addiction, a dearth of affordable healthy food options and a preponderance of chronic health issues.
On the more project focused side, we learned a great deal about QNB’s business processes and operations during our visit. The interviews we conducted with the hospital’s administrative staff provided us with a qualitative understanding of the issues behind the insurance funding shortfalls faced at the facility. We were also able to build relationships and trust with both the executives and ground staff, which deepened as the week progressed. Currently, we are working with QNB to gather the full suite of quantitative data that will help us further narrow the scope of our project and develop recommendations for the facility.
It was a week that was by turns heartwarming and depressing, eye-opening and amazing, challenging and exciting, frustrating and inspiring. We are all deeply grateful for what we learned during our visit and look forward to giving back when we share our recommendations in May.

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