By Beeta Riahi, IRC volunteer and family mentor coordinator
Each fall, spring and summer, the IRC in Baltimore welcomes a new cohort of interns, offering them an opportunity to gain professional experience while supporting refugees and other humanitarian immigrants to thrive in Baltimore.
IRC: Why did you apply for a health internship with the IRC?
FIA: I majored in Global Health and the Environment where I was introduced to the idea that well-being is more than just about helping people who are sick. When I saw the IRC internship posting, I thought, wow this seems perfect for me. I wanted to make myself useful in a field that I’m really passionate about. It was the best decision I ever made.
IRC: What are you responsible for?
FIA: I work with refugees and survivors of some of the worst things imaginable. I act as an advocate for their health and help them take charge until they can advocate for themselves.
IRC: What has been the most valuable part of this internship experience?
FIA: This is not an ordinary internship. I have been given significant responsibility. Client health and well-being are important so I don’t give-up easily, even when the work is hard. Working directly with clients and having those wonderful interactions keep me motivated.
IRC: Can you describe how you function as an intern while working remotely due to the pandemic?
I work closely with IRC staff to determine client needs and call Baltimore Medical Service and Johns Hopkins a LOT to schedule medical appointments and confirm interpretation services; I call insurance companies on behalf of clients to renew or switch healthcare plans; I fill out public benefit applications and do online research and make cold calls to find resources for clients that need tailored services, plus a lot of other miscellaneous tasks either online or by phone.
IRC: Can you describe how you worked to support a client remotely?
FIA: One of our clients required a follow-up medical procedure, but all the local practitioners refused treatment for liability reasons since the original treatment had taken place in another country. The IRC health team made many calls, and I found a private practice who eventually agreed to see our client. I filled out all the necessary paperwork, and we scheduled an Uber to take the client to the clinic. The exam went well and the practitioner agreed to take our client on as a new patient.
IRC: What did you learn from this experience?
FIA: My problem solving ability and perseverance has really improved. Out here in the real-world, people are relying on me to pull through. I’ve learned so much from my supervisors every day and the responsibility in this role really pushed me to grow as a person.
Learn more about becoming an IRC intern! The IRC in Baltimore is now accepting applications for fall internships. Applications for fall internships are due by Monday, August 10 and can be found here.