Guest post by Jen Ehrlich, a summer intern at Watsi
“The most important thing I did yesterday was publish a story to help fund a child’s heart defect.” “The most important thing I’m going to do today is share with donors the success of a young man’s life-saving surgery.” How often do your days begin with statements like that?
If you are a Watsi intern, the answer is, “every single day I go to work.”
Bright and early—ok, perhaps not always bright, we are in San Francisco after all—the employees and interns at Watsi gather in a circle for what we call “standup.” It’s a chance for each person to share with the rest of the team what they have been working on and what the day ahead of them holds. As a health communications intern, my reports lay on the strictly non-technical side, but I also get to hear about what makes Watsi tick from the tech perspective, marketing angle, and website design domain.
Though I am tempted at the end of each circle to put my hand in the middle and shout, “go team,” I resist. My excitement to be part of this awesome team is contained—for now.
Following standup I head over to my desk, one of two where my fellow content intern and I spend our days writing, editing, snacking, and comparing pictures of our adorable patients.
On my computer my first stop is Trello—the platform we use to organize all of the patient data. Based on what is needed that day, I either write profiles, edit profiles, or create updates.
Writing a profile begins with reading about the patient. Each patient has what we call a “raw profile,” which includes: the patient’s name, age, country, medical condition, the impact of their symptoms on daily life, and some more personal details — their work, family, and hobbies. The raw profile often includes a quote from the patient or a family member as well.
My job is to take all of these details and turn them into a profile. Each profile is different, just as each person is. The goal is to help visitors to the Watsi site understand who they are helping, and the impact that treatment will make on that person’s life.
When there are lots of profiles already written by our volunteer writers, my day shifts. On those days, I get to edit profiles written by others. When reading a volunteer’s profile, I look not only for traditional edits like spelling or grammar mistakes, but I also make sure that the profile introduces the patient and explains their medical condition in the best way possible. I make sure that we have filled the profile with quotes from both the patient and our medical partner. I look out for instances when the medical condition or treatment could be explained in even greater detail. Most importantly, I make sure that the combination of narrative detail and medical explanation are woven together to make a smooth story.
Watsi is all about stories. Though standup is fun, the selection of snacks is dangerously excellent, and the people are amazing – the best part of my day at Watsi is when I leave. Not because I am happy to go, (in fact I am always a bit sad that I have to leave such an energetic and exciting environment) – but because at the end of the day I get to go home knowing that, in my own small way, I used my writing to help save lives.
I’m happy at the end of the day because though I am not a doctor or a nurse, I’ve taken my passion for stories and helped people get the healthcare they need. You see, after I write or edit a profile, I get to publish it. Once published, the profile goes on Watsi’s website where anyone around the world can see it, read the patient’s story, and donate to their care. Usually within a few days the patient’s healthcare will be funded, and across the world from our San Francisco office—in hospitals and clinics from Cambodia to Tanzania to Guatemala—patients receive care because Watsi donors funded it.
There is no better feeling in the world than walking home after a day at work, knowing that what I did that day is a small part of the chain that will save someone’s life.
So I love the mornings we spend talking about our priorities for the day. I love the lunches we spend sharing our weekend adventures. I love the design review meetings where an English major like me can learn about all the thought and detail that goes into making each page and function of a website perfect. What I love most, however, is the end of the day. What I love most about being an intern at Watsi is the feeling I get knowing that I helped share the story of someone who needs health care, and that because their story was shared, they will receive it.
Jen is a senior at Stanford University and a summer intern at Watsi. Read more about Jen here.
Want to join the Watsi team as an intern this fall?
I manage medical partnerships @ Watsi
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