Chloe Caplinger knew she wanted to complete a year of service work. However, what the 23-year-old didn’t know was this opportunity would come as her undergraduate graduation approached. Also, that the year she would work with Mercy Serves would lead her to pursue a career as a physician assistant.
“I have experienced and learned more in the past year than I ever imagined was possible,” Chloe says.
Mercy Serves is a service-learning program where AmeriCorps members work with our ministry to address pressing community health needs. As a part of our broader opioid epidemic response, Mercy Serves AmeriCorps members provide patient education, substance use risk screening, emotional support and referrals to treatment and social services in our emergency departments throughout Cincinnati. AmeriCorps members work alongside our nurses, providers and social workers to ensure that patients receive necessary support and resources to make healthy choices and encourage behavior change.
Chloe joined Mercy Serves in September of 2021 and graduated in August. She primarily served at Mercy Health – Clermont Hospital.
“I was lucky enough to get to serve the community I grew up in,” Chloe shares about her time in the Clermont Hospital emergency department.
The service opportunity also provided Chloe professional development for her future career in health care, a path she chose because of Mercy Serves.
“I decided what I wanted to pursue during my time with Mercy Serves,” she says. “I have gained knowledge about health care, rural medicine, the emergency department culture and had the opportunity to work with health care mentors and career coaches. I gained leadership experience and confidence in myself as well as my plan for my future career.”
A typical day for Chloe consisted of assisting nursing staff with developing plans for emergency department patients with substance use disorders.
“If a patient is ready for treatment, I work with social work or case management to discuss where we might be able to find a bed for them, what facilities are in network with their insurance and advocate for the patient’s preferences/best chance of success,” Chloe says. “Some nurses will ask me to go to patient rooms when they suspect a patient has a substance use disorder, if they think the patient may need additional community resources like food, clothing, housing or if someone just seems like they need someone to talk to.”
Chloe became a valuable member of our team and her assistance in the emergency department extended beyond just patients with substance abuse disorders to whatever was needed in the moment.
“I have played with LEGO bricks with a child who was not allowed to have family visitors due to an ongoing CPS investigation,” Chloe recalls. “I have spent time talking about books with a young sexual assault victim who came to the emergency department alone while she waited for a specialized nurse to come to perform a sexual assault exam on her. I have coordinated rides to homeless shelters for patients. The needs of the emergency department are constantly changing.”
While Mercy Serves provided hands-on education in health care for Chloe, the program also has a service aspect, which allowed Chloe further development and personal fulfillment. In fact, Chloe helped plan a service day at the Esther Hatton Center for Women, a local homeless shelter.
“We made a great meal for the ladies and another Mercy Serves member had a craft for the ladies to make beaded jewelry,” Chloe says. “This was special to me because the ladies we served were so happy and moved by something as small as a ‘made from scratch’ meal.”
When looking back on her year with Mercy Serves AmeriCorps, Chloe tells the story of a follow-up call she made to a patient she’d seen six months prior.
“He has not picked up a bottle since we spoke in the emergency room,” she says. “That has been one of my biggest wins and has made every sacrifice during this service year worth it.”
Mercy Serves AmeriCorps is not paid employment, but a service-term supported by a living stipend, education award, health insurance and other benefits. Full-time, 40-hour-a-week positions, as well as part-time positions, are available beginning this fall and ending in the fall of 2023.
Chloe encourages anyone looking for both service work and career development to apply.
“This experience has lit a new fire within me,” she shares. “I am a better person and will be a better medical provider thanks to my Mercy Serves AmeriCorps experience. I feel prepared for my next steps.”
If you are interested in this program or have questions about these opportunities, email program director Tikierra Thompson.
Also, learn about the health care services we offer at Mercy Health.