By: Megan Hakes, AHEC statewide communications assistant
CHIPPEWA FALLS –Now in her last semester in the UW-Eau Claire nursing honors program, Meagan Lechner’s focus is a combination of public health, women’s health, and obstetrics. When she discovered Chippewa County Department of Health’s breastfeeding promotion CHIP internship, she knew it was a perfect fit! Prior to her CHIP internship, she was unsure if public health was the right direction for her, but after spending her summer break as a CHIP intern educating the Chippewa Falls community about breastfeeding, Lechner is confident she wants to work in public health.
“The internship was a wonderful opportunity to get up close and personal access to what goes on behind the scenes in public health departments,” said Lechner. “It opened my eyes to many different experiences and opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to do in school or through clinical rotations.”
During her time with the Chippewa County Department of Health, Lechner assisted with presentations at local child care centers, providing them with information on how to become breastfeeding friendly. Lechner also helped write press releases on a variety of topics, such as breastfeeding week and smoking cessation, and she assisted at immunization clinics. In addition, Lechner shadowed during appointments at Chippewa County’s dual protection clinic and at home visits for pre-natal care coordination and human health hazard inspections.
Providing education was the highlight of her internship. “I love the aspect of patient education with nursing, and a lot of public health entails educating the public and providing them with the knowledge and resources they might not otherwise have to help them make sound, healthy decisions,” said Lechner.
Lechner credits her CHIP internship with expanding her nursing knowledge and increasing her confidence in providing patient education, takeaways she will leverage as a future Registered Nurse.
“The role of a public health nurse is vastly different than that of a floor nurse so gaining this perspective was extremely helpful and provided me with more one-on-one client opportunities,” said Lechner. “Ultimately I would love to work within a public health position, and utilizing the skills I acquired over the summer through the CHIP program will only add a positive tone to my resume and skill set.”