Russ Hildensperger – University of Michigan Health System Intern

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Furthering their education. Improving their resume. Gaining some good old fashion work experience. These are the goals of all Western Michigan University student interns, including Russ Hildensperger, computer information systems senior.

Hildensperger's academic experiences through the Haworth College of Business helped him land a coveted internship as a computer support specialist for the clinical staff at the University of Michigan Health System, as it transitions to a new electronic health record system. In his position, Hildensperger shadowed medical providers throughout their day and answered clinical support calls at the help desk.

After a phone and in-person interview, Hildensperger was offered the position and took the opportunity to learn and gain experience. Hildensperger says that the Haworth College of Business prepared him for this type of work in ways he could not have imagined; citing written and oral communication skills in addition to the technical skills required of the job.

“The communication skills that I obtained through the college really helped me to thrive in the fast-paced, hectic environment that one finds in a hospital,” says Hildensperger, noting that the integrated communication course, required of all business students, helped prepare him to handle situations such as communicating bad news to customers.

“I could not solve every problem that came my way while working at the help desk. I had to tell customers that I could not solve their problems and that I would have to get in touch with them later,” says Hildensperger. Learning to communicate effectively is something that Hildensperger caught on to but with effective communication there needs to be effective listening as well.

“You must be a great listener. What I have learned is that all of the knowledge in the world will not help you if you cannot effectively listen to the customer and fully understand the problem and what they want you to do about it,” says Hildensperger.

Hildensperger’s favorite parts of this internship were the numerous opportunities to practice with the EPIC software that is used by the hospital. He worked with countless people who have showed him the dedication it takes to maintain the system. This internship has opened up many opportunities for Hildensperger and sparked an interest in the health care field, whether it is as an EPIC contractor or in a health informatics and information management-related field. After he completes his B.B.A. degree with a major in computer information systems, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in health informatics. (See related article announcing new MBA concentration in health care at WMU.)

Hildensperger realizes that one of the biggest challenges for students is being aware of amazing internship opportunities. By being proactive, he landed an internship that has already taught him valuable lessons and experience for his intended career, and this Bronco is on his way to a bright future.