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SPS Social Work Student Spotlight: Victoria Baggio ’20

Meet Tori Baggio, a senior majoring in social work and Spanish. She shares what she learned from her experience as a social work intern at Roger Williams Medical Center doing research with cancer patients.

Please tell us about your internship experience.

I am currently interning at Roger Williams Medical Center doing research with cancer patients. As a social work intern, I am researching the psycho-social needs of cancer patients in hopes to create interventions that will meet their needs. My responsibilities include conducting interviews with patients based on the survey I created during my first semester. I also meet with the patients and hospital translator to learn more about their individual cases, assess needs, and serve as a Spanish-speaking support. I am also working on a project to assess the barriers to getting a colonoscopy screening within the Latino community in the Providence area. Additionally, another project I am working on is creating an Animal Assisted Therapy program in the Roger Williams Cancer Center to improve the morale of patients, staff, and physicians. On a typical day I will arrive at the office in the morning and meet with patients in either the hospital or cancer center, depending on the case load for that day. During that time, I may check-in on the patient to ask them questions specific to their case or I may observe the hospital translator helping Spanish-speaking patients through paperwork or pre-procedure processes. In the afternoon, I am usually in the cancer center interviewing patients for the research project.

How are you putting what you have learned in the classroom to use in your internship?

While working with such a diverse population, the knowledge that I have learned in the classroom regarding cultural competence and boundaries has been essential. In class, we are taught to listen first to the needs of the patient to meet them where they are. This client-first focus is the basis of my research as we are looking to hear directly from the patients about their needs in order to make a difference in their health-care experience. It can often be difficult to not get emotionally attached to patients and their stories but using supervision and class time to discuss difficult cases has been very helpful in making me a better practitioner. Likewise, my Spanish language skills that I have learned in class and abroad have been pivotal when working with patients and translating documents.

What is the most surprising thing that you did not expect to learn or experience through your internship?

The most surprising thing for me thus far has been how passionate I have become about ensuring everyone in Rhode Island has access to colonoscopy screenings. Through my work with Dr. Calvino, who has been nationally recognized for his efforts to improve screening rates within the Latino community, I have learned so much about how these screenings can save lives. Colonoscopies are definitely stigmatized, and I would have never imagined I would be writing my thesis about health equity as it relates to colonoscopies but here I am!

What are your future goals or aspirations? How has your internship influenced your goals?

My future goal is to get my MSW (Master of Social Work) degree and continue to work with cancer patients or within the health care field. This internship has affirmed my passion for health care, creating programs, and helping patients so I can only hope to continue that in the future!

What is your dream job?

My dream job would definitely be to work in a government agency such as the Department of Health or Human Services. In that setting I could create programming and policy for large community systems relating to health care and health equity!

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