MHA student helps get heart clinic underway at Children’s Hospital
Sarah Stephenson realized she had an interest in children’s health at a dance marathon. At the time, the University of Iowa student was helping to raise funds for young cancer patients and their families.
“At the end of the marathon, all the kids who you raised money for come to the dance,” explains Stephenson. “When I saw the kids and their families arriving, I realized I had an interest in helping them beyond just this event.”
After graduating Stephenson, who combined a degree in biomedical engineering with a certificate in entrepreneurship, worked as a lab director for a year while she planned her next move.
“I knew I liked health care settings, and I’ve always been interested in the organizational side of things, so the MHA program was a perfect fit,” she says.
Now just a few months from graduating, Stephenson is wrapping up her work as coordinator for a new heart clinic at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. The clinic diagnoses and treats children who are experiencing developmental delays that are likely related to their heart condition. All the children who come to the clinic have had heart surgery at the hospital, often within hours or weeks of their birth.
While heart health and neurological development in children are linked, the relationship is complex and still somewhat mysterious. But it is known that when neurological issues are addressed early, children are much more likely to be on track developmentally by the time they begin school.
Using operations and strategy skills she’s learned
Stephenson gets to put the operations and strategy skills she’s learned to use when overseeing clinic operations, which includes recruiting families, collecting data, and liaising with hospital administration.
The clinic specialists range from occupational therapists to neuropsychologists to genetic counselors to pediatricians.
The experience will serve her well as she soon embarks on a yearlong fellowship with Bon Secours, a health system based in Richmond, Va. Stephenson says the new chapter will give her a different perspective on health care, but that she sees herself returning to children’s health.
“It’s such a powerful thing to know you’ve helped a child,” she says. “Nothing else can make you feel that way.”