This past summer, Mission First Supportive Housing: Edison (Mission First) hosted interns from Rutgers University, Equity in Action Summer Internship Program (EASI). EASI interns are focused on combating social determinants of health through work rooted in social justice. Working in interprofessional teams at participating community sites, students-create a program under the guidance of site leads and EASI program co-directors.

Mission First has partnered with the Rutgers program since 2017 hosting interns to facilitate the annual Resident Feedback Survey. This survey is a critical tool measuring resident satisfaction in the permanent supportive housing program. Survey results provide information that helps Mission First adjust its programming to meet the needs of individuals and families served. The feedback informs all aspects of program development and delivery, from how programs are advertised among residents and how residents are engaged in programming to the type of programming delivered. For example, a 2021 survey indicated a strong interest in onsite arts-based programming. This input from residents led to a collaboration with NJ-based arts group, coLAB Arts (profiled herein).

This year’s cohort of three interns worked on-site at our permanent supportive housing developments in Edison, NJ, Amandla Crossing and Imani Park, creating the 2022 Resident Survey and spearheading workshops developed in response to survey feedback. The interns were also responsible for providing one-to-one support to our residents. Interns deepened their own understanding of homelessness while addressing residents’ diverse and sometimes challenging daily needs.

Yinin Li, a 5th year Pharmacy student at Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, found the experience eye-opening, describing it as, “a nuanced perspective of populations that I will serve as a healthcare professional.” One-to-one interactions with residents to help them navigate medical, transportation and other federal or state resources, were key to shedding light on the needs of a demographic in flux.

Hailey Zito, a rising 4th year student at Rutgers School of Nursing, didn’t know what to expect from her internship. “But, I appreciated the interactions I had with residents at Imani Park and Amandla Crossing. I had never worked with individuals who have experienced homelessness, but I think I have a better understanding of the needs of this special population, and how I can care for them as a nurse.”

Ron Gibson, a 2nd year medical student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, was excited by the future implications of working in conjunction with his EASI program teammates. “Providing individual case management, workshop and discussion facilitation as well as fun events for residents was a great experience,” he said. “Facilitating info sessions for residents on healthcare systems and collaborating on their feedback to plan further sessions, will definitely inform my future work.”

Mission First thanks Yinin, Hailey and Ron, and wishes them the best in their pursuits!

Source: News at Mission First Supportive Housing: Edison | October 26, 2022