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Internship Spotlight: Rodrigo Bravo, MD-MPH ’24 (Healthcare Management)

October 04, 2023

Pharmacy Intern, Stanford Health Care, Stanford Medicine, Palo Alto, California; Funding: Stanford Health Care Department of Pharmacy.

What is your career goal?

Medical entrepreneurship – to create a broad-scale, integrated, holistic medicine care delivery experience for patients.

What were your duties/responsibilities during your internship?

Reporting to a recently hired chief of pharmacy, I was responsible for supporting projects building upon several key strategic imperatives. Some of the projects I supported included: generating frameworks for mitigating drug shortages; creating an educational toolkit for how pharmacy could modify practice to support health equity; building a case study for improving internal communications and improving team culture; researching how generative AI could be used to optimize team performance; supporting LGBTQ+ patient populations through pharmacy; and I even had the opportunity to publish on the role of payers given current policy constraints.

What did you take away from your experience as an intern? What was the value of the internship to you?

Internships are what you make of them! There were many opportunities when I could have sat back and embodied a more casual role, but I chose to become involved in higher-level projects, going so far as to create and modify several of my own – and even spurred collaboration between pharmacy and other departments across the hospital, such as the LGBTQ+ health services.

This internship offered me a sample of what it would be like for me to work at a large-scale health care organization, and it helped me think through how I want my career and professional life to look like post-graduation in terms of professional context, culture, collegiality, degree of flexibility in different health care settings, and opportunities to shine. Through my internship, I was able to understand how my MPH education has bolstered my strengths, improved my weaknesses, and made me more resilient as a future practitioner of public health.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your internship? What was the most challenging aspect? The most surprising aspect?

I seized the opportunity to develop my confidence as I faced many large and nebulous challenges as a part of working in a successful, albeit rapidly changing, dynamic team environment. There were many instances when I, at first, had very little notion of or assistance in grappling with complex obstacles, both in technical and managerial matters. These situations were the perfect opportunity for me to think quickly on my feet, think resourcefully, and produce solutions I ended up presenting to various stakeholders, such as senior leadership and several internal teams.

While I could have maintained a more lax approach to my internship, I had unintentionally sought out an opportunity to work on and master aspects of myself in ways I did not foresee, given that my work experience felt like a startup existing inside a hospital, because of the many rapidly moving pieces.

In a sense, this experience was great fun, and it did ask a great deal of ambition and eagerness from me in order to succeed. I got what I was looking for, for which I am grateful to Stanford.

How did your first year at YSPH prepare you for this internship?

Discussion sections and numerous personal conversations with like-minded thinkers in my class offered me the opportunity to grapple with my own philosophy and perspectives on the operation of health care. Didactics through my coursework in, for instance, health care management, competitive strategy, social justice, health policy, and health economics taught me specific technical tools and analytical frameworks. These were useful in deconstructing and thinking through common workplace issues, ranging from health-equity programming to operations to human capital strategy. Stanford Health Care was the ideal playground for me to solidify my thoughts on how hospital enterprises are run, and pull from my knowledge and insights from classes at YSPH to recommend ways to solve problems or improve the practice of health care management in a large, well-funded, prestigious health system.

What would you say to a student who’s considering a similar internship?

The road to becoming a hospital or health care administrator is typically long and punctuated by a slew of institutional, policy-based, and bureaucratic ups and downs – this is perfect for some and not perfect for others. Like all life opportunities, you get what you put in, and it is wise to try to be as specific as possible with what knowledge or experience you aim to attain from the opportunity. Given that hospital work means becoming one valuable piece amid hundreds of others, be careful that you don’t fall into the cracks. Advocate for yourself to receive the tutelage, wisdom, and opportunity to excel that you deserve from those around you – craft your job as needed!

Submitted by Sabrina Lacerda Naia dos Santos on October 04, 2023