A blog for my writing and rhetoric capstone project: a corporate communications internship at a local hospital.

Pressing on to a Press Release

I am nearing the final weeks of my internship and my most recent assignment has been to write a press release.  We have been waiting for one to come along that would be appropriate for me to take a stab at (one that is not heavily weighed or full of politics).  I submitted a draft today for a press release announcing a new support program for young women with breast cancer.  There are numerous support groups for women with breast cancer, but there are not any that designed around young women.  There are specific issues that arise during treatment that are unique to young survivors, such as fertility issues, dealing with children, and work issues.  This new support group will address those issues and is targeted for young women specifically.

I enjoyed writing the press release and, as always, I did my research.  Since it was my first press release I spent some time going through others to get a feel for how they are written and the style that the hospital uses.  I learned about the inverted pyramid, a style of writing that puts the most important information first (that is, what will appeal to the audience) and the least important information last (like a call to action).  I enjoyed writing it and it will make a nice addition to my portfolio.  The press release was one assignment that I wanted to complete during my internship in order to expand my capabilities as a writer.

Now that I got the press release out of the way, I can talk about the press conference that I attended yesterday.  I had an opportunity to hang out with the media relations guy at Royal Oak hospital, so he had me attend a press conference that he helped arrange at Safety City U.S.A. in Royal Oak.  You may have heard “Trouble in Toyland” on the news, and that’s what this press conference was for.  Every year a company called PIRGIM releases a list of toys that are unsafe for children.  This press conference addressed safety issues in everyday toys and what parents can do to protect their children.  Channel 4 news was onsite, and so was someone from Channel 2 and channel 7.  A WWJ broadcaster was there as well as a few local newspapers.  It was interesting to see a different side of things and got me thinking about my search for an internship and job responsibilities.  When I was searching for internships there were a lot that were ideal for journalism majors.  Even a lot of the assignments I have taken on here at Troy were a challenge for me initially because I do not have any journalism experience.  I think the Writing and Rhetoric program at OU could benefit from some journalistic classes in the professional track.  With that said, I have been told that I was very prepared for this internship, more than others in the past, and I think that is because of the key concepts and fundamentals in the Writing and Rhetoric program, but I think an additional class that touches on a more journalistic style would be beneficial for students like me.  Like I told the journalism intern I was talking with yesterday, “I had to master APA style, and MLA style, but I can’t tell you the first thing about AP style.”  In an industry where there is so much overlap and so many opportunities, it might be helpful to have a class that would help with that in the future.  With that said, I never once felt unprepared during my internship and have been given great feedback on my writing skills, which I can attribute the key concepts taught in the Writing and Rhetoric program at OU.

I will be taking next week of from my Internship to work on the portfolio assignment to complete the capstone.  Expect at least one more update from me as I complete the internship.  I hope everyone has good Thanksgiving.


To Honor Those Who Served…

As most people know, Veterans Day was celebrated last week on November 11 to honor those who have served for our country.  Here at the hospital we held a short service to honor those who are our own.  Whether they are children of employees, employees themselves, volunteers, or out Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nursing Executive, the service was dedicated to them to give thanks and remembrance of what they have done for our country.  I was honored to participate in the event that was led by the hospital chaplain and Lisa’s secretary.  I was able to photograph the event and pass out programs to those who joined us.  This service was somewhat special, because our Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nursing Executive served as the guest speaker.  This week she, herself, is retiring from the military after 25 years of service.  She shared with us some of her experiences, such as winning an award for best shooting of a 9mm caliber rifle, before a short slide-show was played with photos that were submitted by employees that have served for our country.  Needless to say it was a very nice service and even brought tears to the eyes of the VP of Nursing.

That same week my “Faces” article on our volunteer and World War II veteran ran in the hospital newsletter.  I was very excited to have it coincide with Veterans Day and it was one of my favorite “Faces” assignments thus far.  Here are a few pictures from the Veterans Day service, along with a screenshot of my article in the hospital newsletter.

Hospital chaplain leads us in a patriotic song.

Our Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nursing Executive at Troy, served 25 years and retired as of today.

World War II veteran and volunteer at Troy. I interviewed him for "Faces." The highlight of the story was when he told me about the 16-inch guns he trained on. "It took 90 pounds of gun powder to fire one of those," he told me numerous times. As I walked in on the day of the ceremony, I saw him talking with another volunteer. From across the room I heard him saying "90 pounds of powder to fire one of those!"

Employees gather to honor and recognize those who have served our country.

Presenting…Week Nine

Today is Friday and the end of week 9 at my internship.  This was a short week for me with only two days, but I gained a lot of good insight into the organization and communications in general.  Today I practiced a different form of writing for a situation on short notice without a lot of available information.  I enjoyed the energy it required and the creative thinking.  Without going into too much detail, breaking down what information I did have and utilizing the rhetorical triangle was very helpful in this particular situation.

Yesterday I accompanied Lisa to a Practice Administrators Council luncheon at Maggiano’s Italian restaurant.  The meeting is led by administrators of the Troy and Royal Oak hospitals and includes a series of updates on different departments and services that each hospital offers.  The target audience is physicians and office managers for physicians.  The food was delicious.  But I do need to work on my table manners and etiquette so that I am more comfortable in that type of situation and don’t pass the food dish the wrong direction…

The presentations included updates from our COO/CNO on the Troy hospital, as well as updates from the Royal Oak hospital, Imaging services, electronic charting, and an update on the current negotiations that have made their way into the media recently, amongst other things.  Some of the presentations were very engaging and provided interesting information.  Others were not so engaging, and while they were informative, the information was not delivered in an effective manner.  Some of the issues that Lisa and I both noted were information over-load and lack of audience engagement.  The format for the presentations was pretty standard and included a speaker at the front of the room and power point slides as cues.  My experience in Dr. Alan’s class (Literacy, Technology, and Civic Engagement) has made me not very fond of power-point presentations, but power point slides are a standard for many administrative meetings in the hospital that require the presentation of pertinent information.  Power points slides make great cues if the rhetor provides an engaging discussion, but can also be rather un-stimulating in the hands of someone who may not be as comfortable speaking in front of a large group of people.

Of course, the meeting got me thinking about all of the presentations that we have given in our Writing and Rhetoric classes.  Looking back, I have noticed a common theme between many of them.  In Dr. G’s class (Issues in Rhetoric), oral presentations were an integral part of the class.  The same thing in Dr. Alan’s class (Lit. Tech. and Civic Engagement), and every class that I have taken with Dr. Nugent.  By the end of the first two classes I listed, I had become rather comfortable standing at the front of the class and doing presentations.  I wouldn’t say that I particularly enjoyed it, but I didn’t start having convulsions when it came time to stand up and speak in front of everyone, because I felt prepared. One thing that I have realized by working at the hospital is that speaking in front of people, and doing it effectively, is and important part of running an organization.   The word communication encompasses a lot of things.  We don’t just write to communicate, but we speak, we present, we do whatever it takes to effectively share information with others.

Writing and rhetoric doesn’t just focus on writing for communication.  A few weeks ago, I was talking to a family member of mine about the Writing and Rhetoric program at OU and the degree I will be getting in December.  He said, “What’s rhetoric?  That’s ‘bullshit’ isn’t it?”  While I do think it would be pretty cool to say that I am getting a B.A. in Bullshit, I felt a strong need to explain the real concept of rhetoric to him and others that were sitting at the table.  Rhetoric can be used in a lot of ways that are positive, informative, or in some cases, negative.  Unfortunately, many times the term takes on a negative connotation.  The point is, rhetoric is important.  Being able to speak in front of an audience and present information clearly with an identified purpose is important.  It’s not just something that we have to do in class, it is something that is actually used everyday in the real world.

That’s all I have for today, the luncheon just sparked those ideas and brought me back to the many presentations we have done.  It reiterates the amount of thought that needs to be put into a presentation to ensure that it is effective for its particular audience.  With this little bit of insight, I am thankful now for having to stand up in front of every class and do a presentation, because I know that it is an important part of rhetoric that is used in day-to-day business.  Whether or not you can do it effectively means the difference between a free lunch for a few office managers or an engaging luncheon that leaves everyone with information that they can use.

First “Faces” Published

The highlight of my morning…

“Faces Around Beaumont” is an ongoing project that I have been working on here at my internship.  Today, my first profile was published on the back of our hospital-wide newsletter.  I have written four articles so far, but I have yet to see any printed.  This version happens to be the electronic copy of the newsletter.  In the interest of being “green” the hospital-wide newsletter rotates between electronic and print every other week.

Next week I am looking forward to seeing our EEG technician’s profile published and checking off that task on our AEEG communication plan that I mentioned near the beginning of the blog.  The following week I will see the profile of one of our volunteers and World War II veteran, Mac.

It’s not much, but it really is exciting to see something I have written actually put to use, and it has been great practice with both my interviewing skills and a different style of writing.  I am happy to have had the opportunity to do a few of these “Faces.”

*Click the image for full-size.

Another Week Come and Gone

Another week has come and gone.  I am on week 7 at my internship now, but let me take a minute and talk about week 6.

Last week I was excited to attend an award ceremony at the Royal Park Hotel.  The awards ceremony?…a little boring, although WXYZ anchor Dave LewAllen did the presenting.  The exciting part for me was eating breakfast with President of Beaumont, Troy (Tom), and the Vice President/Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nurse Executive (Nancy).  It was an excellent opportunity to “suit up” and be able to talk first hand with both of them.  They are both very nice and very supportive of students and continuing education.  In fact, both of them offered to have me job shadow them before my internship is over.  I think I will get in touch with them and take them up on that.  The awards ceremony was held over breakfast, and there was an excellent spread of food.  I enjoy a hearty breakfast in the morning, so I loaded up on scrambled eggs, 4 slices of curly bacon, diced red skins, and some fresh-cut fruit.  In hind-sight, I probably should have held back a bit that morning…

I am going to jump back a bit and re-visit week 5.  That week I had a chance to job shadow someone in our Service Excellence department.  Now that job takes a certain amount of energy and optimism that many people might not be able to keep up with.  I have had a chance to respond to respond to a lot of compliment letters during my internship with Lisa.  In Service Excellence they handle all of the complaints.  The complaint process works like this:  Someone complains, either through a letter or in person or over the phone.  Some complaints are silly, some are warranted, but you can bet that there are a lot of heated phone calls, something that is bound to happen in a hospital where patients and families are coping with difficult times.  After the complaint is made, a case is opened and a representative needs to go back to the source of the complaint, and then follow up before the case is closed.  This is truly a test of analyzing your audience and responding appropriately, an exercise that can be difficult if you cannot separate your self from the situation and take a neutral position.  The goal is to recover the trust and confidence of the patient or family member who is not happy.

This week is going to be short one since I am only in the office for two days.  Today I wrapped up the Veteran article on our volunteer, Mac.  I am very excited to see that printed on the back of our newsletter.  I also worked on and submitted a holiday letter to all the hospital volunteers that will be printed in the volunteer magazine.  It emphasizes the accomplishments of the hospital over the past year and draws a connection between those events and the volunteers so that they know they are appreciated.  The volunteer role at the hospital is extremely important.  They assist in transporting patients, manning the help desks, giving directions, discharging patients, delivering flowers, even the volunteer magazine is managed by a volunteer.  Needless to say, they are very much appreciated by the hospital.

Next week I will be back for three days.  It should be an interesting week with a lot to report.  One of my “Faces” articles is scheduled to run in the October 31 issue of the newsletter, so I will be happy to snag a few copies for my portfolio.  I will also be attending a luncheon at Maggianos next week with Lisa, where Tom (President) is giving a presentation.  More on that next week…


Check-in After Weeks Four and Five

Weeks four and five at my internship have slipped right by.  It has been two weeks since my last update and there is a lot to report.  I will keep it short and focus on a few key thoughts.

In my last update I mentioned a program called Reach Out and Read.  This is a nation-wide program in which physician offices participate to promote early literacy.  A child receives a book with each visit to the pediatrician and is taught, at an early age, the importance of literacy.  This program immediately struck a chord with me and brought me back to the many ideas we studied in Dr. Alan’s class last fall–Literacy, Technology, & Civic Engagement.  One of the first things we learned was the importance of literacy.  Literacy = Power…opportunity.  One common theme was “Access” and how those without access to literacy are at a disadvantage.  With recent advances in technology access isn’t as much as an issue for most people, but the importance of literacy still cannot be underrated.  Being exposed to literacy at a young age and being given the resources needed means that children are going to be more prepared for their future, more prepared to interact with people, and more prepared to succeed in a world where words rule.  This program is especially beneficial for lower-income and/or under educated families who may not have access to the resources available for literacy or understand its importance in society.

The Reach Out and Read program did not require much of me, but I did have some other small projects to keep me busy the last two weeks.  My letter to physicians for the AEEG program was finally sent out.  It was signed by our Physician-In-Chief and made a nice addition to my portfolio.

“Faces Around Beaumont” is an ongoing project and I have interviewed quite a few more people since my first article.  During week four I interviewed a member of our staff who works in Infectious Disease.  I also interviewed another member of our staff who works in Administration as a Project Coordinator.  Her interview was very interesting and she had a lot to say.  I like when they have a lot to say, because then I don’t have to say as much.  While I consider myself somewhat outgoing, I certainly prefer to be the listener rather than the talker.  One thing I have learned with this project is that it is not always easy to get people to talk about themselves…I wonder why I don’t have that problem.  This gal was interesting to interview because she has had a long career at Beaumont, and at one point was the Administrative Assistance to the CEO of the entire Beaumont Health System.  I finished drafting her article and submitted it last week for approval.

This past week I had, by far, my favorite interview.  I almost consider this article its own project as it is something I am very excited to be doing.  Coming up in November is Veteran’s Day, and our hospital does something special every year to honor those who have served our country.  This past week I interviewed one of our volunteers, who happens to be a World War II veteran, as a “Face” around Beaumont.  His article will run in the newsletter the week of Veterans Day.  His name is Mac, and he is very passionate, very proud, and very willing to talk about his time in the Navy.  I arrived in the office 15 minutes early and waited patiently for my 11:00 interview with him.  The smell of patchouli flooded the office as he shared his old war stories and showed me his photographs.  Mac served in the South Pacific during the second World War on a battleship a participated in 10 campaigns.  I could have listened to him talk all day, but he had to go to work at noon, so I spent the rest of the day in my office working on his article and reconstructing the interview in my head.  This is definitely one of my favorite assignments of the internship so far.

On a final note, I made another addition to my portfolio yesterday.  I had the opportunity to write a short feature article to be published on our online news press.  Beaumont is requiring every employee to get a flu shot this year.  As you can imagine, it has caused quite an uproar amongst employees.  I think the only reason that people get upset is because someone is telling them that they have to get the flu shot, not because they are actually against getting the flu shot.  But more important than anything, employees getting the flu shot will help protect our patients, and this is something I feel very strongly about.  The floor that I work on as a Nursing Assistant has a lot of very sick patients.  It is not uncommon for these patients to have compromised immune systems because of the treatments they are undergoing.  These are patients that could have serious complications if they were to get the flu…why wouldn’t we want to protect them?  Back to the point…I wrote a 300 word article about the flu and it appeared yesterday in a corporate-wide email, and is also posted on the website.  I printed out copies to add to my portfolio and I must say, albeit a small assignment, I was very excited to see something of mine published on the website.  Though, not as excited (nor honored) as I will be to see Mac’s article on the back our hospital-wide newsletter during Veterans Week…

That’s it for tonight.  I will make it a point to check in this week with an update.  I will be attending a community event where the president of Beaumont, Troy is presenting an award at the Royal Park Hotel, so I am sure I will have a few words (and maybe even a few pictures?) to share.  I also job shadowed someone in our Service Excellence department this week.  I have responded to a lot of compliment letters…well, this is where they handle all of the complaints.  I will go into more detail on that next week.

A Few Words for Week Three

Last week was my third week at Troy, here is a quick update…

Week two was short with only two days, but I managed to do a few interviews and write a few articles.  You may remember “Meet the Faces,” well…my first “Faces” has been submitted and will be printed in our Inside Beaumont newsletter.  As predicted, I struggled initially with a style of writing that is different from what I am familiar with.  I never have been much for journalistic writing, but after some time and effort, and with a little advice from the more experienced, I think it turned out quite nice.  I am looking forward to adding it to my portfolio.  I had to use some outside resources to get the finished product, but it came together smoothly.  My cousin happens to have a degree in Journalism, so I picked her brain and solicited for some feedback.  She gave me a few tips on style and a little boost in confidence that I needed before submitting it.  Lisa also has a degree in Journalism and is very supportive.  Her door is always open and she is easy to approach for feedback.

Most of the work I did last week was to promote a program called “Reach Out and Read (ROR)” here at Troy.  ROR is a program that encourages early literacy in children by providing them with books during each visit with their pediatrician.  My job was to promote the book drive by creating posters and tent cards for the event.  I also wrote a blurb for the hospital-wide Monday Memo, and added it to the calendar of events on the Beaumont employee website.
More to come on ROR this weekend with the next assigned blog post…

I attended a Troy leader meeting last week where the CEO of Beaumont addressed the administrative team at Troy.  This was interesting to sit in on and nice to see the different roles of our corporate administrators.  I found that most of the information was business that was over my head and out of my interest, but there were some valuable points made in the meeting that applied to nursing.  The overall experience was worthwhile.  I enjoy every opportunity to see our hospital president and the CEO of our corporation speak.  Since starting up here, I have taken a new interest in hospital administration.  As an employee outside of corporate communications, the “suits” are often intimidating when seen on the floors.  There is an outside-looking-in perspective when it comes to the business side of the hospital.  Having a chance see our administrators in action has shown me that they are not, in fact, so intimidating.  And it has given me more faith in the organization–knowing who is behind it what is going on.  I never thought I would take such an interest in this type of role, but I found my self looking into a graduate degree from Walsh College in Health Services Administration…but that is getting ahead of myself at this point.

My computer is still slow as molasses.  I have backed up all my files and transferred them to my laptop.  The other day I had been at the computer for 40 minutes still waiting for programs or documents to open so I could get started.  I figured the time it took to set up my laptop was worth it, and with a little practice, it is a lot less time-consuming.

I like the fact that I have a desk and work space.  It is easier to focus with a dedicated work space and it sure does make me feel important.  There is an apple on my desk.  I can’t say it’s just for kicks and grins, as I was going to eat it–just never got around to it–so there it sits.  I decided to leave it there as it adds come contrast to the office.  It will most likely stay there until I forget to pack a piece of fruit one day.  Or it will be joined by another if I ever forget to eat the fruit I packed for the day again.

Week four is almost over, so more to come on that this weekend.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.