Health Care Leadership

Emily Lao
Emphasis Area
Public Health

Emily Lao expanded her role as a medical assistant in a surgical oncology department to gain leadership and conflict management skills. 

Why did you choose this internship? 

I chose this internship because I have a passion for healthcare. I began working in healthcare about six years ago, mainly because I really enjoy helping people. I started in my role as a medical assistant at Sutter Health Medical Foundation last year and have enjoyed working for them ever since. I had such strong connections and bonds with the office staff, so I didn't want to leave the office for my internship. Instead I decided to pitch an opportunity with the same department and same people, just a different role that would further advance my leadership experience.

What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience? 

I supported the care center lead in her leadership responsibilities. For example, I attended meetings, gave input on staffing, provided guidance to the medical assistants in the surgical oncology department, and was there to help when needed. I managed conflict and helped difficult patients solve their particular problems in a calm manner. This role also required me to deal with insurance companies and take care of the administrative needs of the office. It's a lot of patient care and operations work and takes a lot of brain power, but it is very rewarding at the end of the day. 

What skills did you learn in this internship? 

I gained a lot of leadership skills. For example, I learned how to be more direct in my communication with my coworkers since I had to delegate tasks, provide instruction, and direct them to areas that needed attention. I also had to have confidence when helping physicians and hospital administrators. Because there were times that I had to navigate conflict between staff and patients, I had to use my critical thinking and cultural awareness skills. Difficult or angry patients are always tough to deal with, but it was especially tough because I was in a leadership role and I had to take care of the issue myself. This experience taught me more patience and active listening skills - these skills are also useful in daily life outside of work. 

What was your favorite part of your internship? 

My favorite part of my internship was being able to maintain my role in patient care while also stepping into a leadership role within my department. This is meaningful to me because I have always valued leadership, especially in healthcare. It is something I never thought I would thrive in, but I ended up loving it. The other part of the internship I loved was the people I work with. This is important in a department such as surgical oncology because it can be really emotionally taxing at times, but I was fortunate because at the end of the day my coworkers are there for me.