Summer Spotlight: An internship with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services

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Rachel Shen

Major: Nursing BSN

Graduation Year: 2024

Internship: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Tell us about your internship:

I am interning with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as a commissioned officer (ensign rank) of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). I work with the Region 9 Office of Program Operations & Local Engagement (OPOLE) based in the San Francisco Federal Building, where we manage the administration of Medicare and Medicaid both locally as well as nationwide alongside other regional offices. My current project involves assisting OPOLE with taking on some work associated with the reconsideration process for CMS innovation models, starting with Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model. 

What has been the best experience so far?

My best experience during this internship has been from meeting with other nurse officers in the USPHS, and hearing about their experiences and learning about the many things that nurses can do. Some different positions I heard about include a nurse practitioner in the Bureau of Prisons who described how she advocated for her patients, a nurse surveyor who traveled often and brought her expertise with her, a nurse who worked in Indian Health Services who described the difficulty of working in such an under-resourced area yet the joy of being able to change things for the better, and a nurse who worked in the Yosemite National Park medical clinic and woke up to breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley every morning. Being exposed to all of these opportunities in nursing has been an eye-opening experience, and makes me excited to see what is ahead for me. 

What are you going to take away from this experience?

I am looking to explore this area of nursing, to see what impact nurses can have in the federal government and in administrative or leadership positions. I spent my previous summer working in a cardiovascular/Covid ECMO ICU, and learned a lot about the hands-on aspect of nursing. Now, I am hoping to learn about what nurses can do beyond the bedside, and how they can impact greater change. 

What advice do you have for students looking for a similar opportunity?

Be open to anything, and don't be scared of things that you don't know! I never thought that I would end up working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services since I barely knew anything at all about Medicare before starting this internships, but I'm learning more everyday. 

Summer Spotlight: An internship with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid servic…