The most surprising aspect of my internship this summer was the sheer size of the task at hand. I had zero experience with medical equipment, developing a database, inventory systems, and tracking programs. I was basically walking into this project entirely blind to what I was going to have to figure out in the few weeks of my internship.
I thought I was going to be just in my office working on the computer all day. I was surprised by the amount of time I spent working with clients, explaining and showcasing different models and brands of equipment. I was also surprised by the amount of time I spent outside, loading and unloading equipment, fixing items and taking items apart, sorting, and cleaning equipment.
I was also surprised by how important networking with the community ended up being for this particular project. I was able to save 500+ CPAP machines and oxygen concentrators from ending up in a landfill by working with a local medical equipment company who will refurbish the equipment and give them away to people who need them for free.
I individually priced and valued hundreds and hundreds of pieces of equipment, researching each one, creating a description, instructions, and noting replacement parts, prices, and places to buy.
Another surprise was the amount of homeless veterans I served. The poverty statistics in Montana, as well as the literacy rates, were shocking, and served to prove why this medical equipment program is so necessary in the lives of thousands of people in Northwest Montana.
Overall, a big surprise was the fact that I was able to come into this without any experience, and achieve the goals that were set for me by my organization. I was overwhelmed and anxious at the quantity of equipment we had in stock, as well as the high volume of items flowing in and out on a regular basis.