When Portland Community College (PCC) student Richana McManus was looking for an internship in gerontology, Cedar Sinai Park was her first choice.
“I heard Nancy [Heckler] speaking about Cedar Sinai Park’s Adult Day Services program and I was almost salivating,” said McManus, who describes herself as a middle-aged woman looking for a career to suit her skills. “I knew from day one that I wanted to work with people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia and I was in a deep search for an internship opportunity, so the information came from the right person at the right time.”
Richana is one of four PCC interns who volunteered in Adult Day Services this spring for their professional gerontology certificates. PCC students in the gerontology program are required to volunteer in a gerontology setting for at least 130 hours to graduate, said McManus.
The PCC and Cedar Sinai Park partnership began in 2011, said Heckler, who directs Adult Day Services.
“We have a long history of partnering with PCC students in the gerontology program,” said Nancy. “The four interns this spring were a great group. The partnership is a win-win endeavor for all of us.
“Our union with PCC is one of theoretical and practical knowledge. We need each other to grow, to learn, and to experience the complex and diverse ways of living together as we age.”
PCC Gerontology Instructor Michael Faber said Cedar Sinai Park is typically the internship of choice for many of his gerontology students. “We just love having our students there,” said Faber. “They get such a high-quality experience, and we know it’s a high-quality facility, and that the organization recognizes person-centered care, which is how we teach our students.
“It’s important to have the kind of education and training that a Cedar Sinai Park internship provides,” he said. “And working with staff like Nancy, in particular, who understands the mission of our program is incredible. Each intern is worked with individually, and is helped to discover and grow in their career development. Our students really get what they need. The internships are great, and we love them.”
McManus will be job hunting after winter term and said she greatly enjoyed the Cedar Sinai Park experience.
“I like the philosophy of staff in working with the group members who come here,” said McManus. “I like the attention to detail that they pay to what is comfortable for each individual, and the group as a whole. Every person who comes to the Adult Day Services program is known.
“We still ask them if they want coffee, even though we know the answers to those questions. It’s giving the group members an opportunity to interact and have agency. I really love that because every aspect of the program is designed for success for the people who participate,” she said.
“It’s very prevalent that people will write off a person with dementia. They think there’s ‘nobody home.’ And that isn’t the case at all. That’s what brought me to this work because someone’s `home’ in every heart.
“I have learned so much from being here.”