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Alumni Q&A: Working and teaching community health

This alumni spotlight is part of our celebration of the Temple BSN program’s 50th anniversary. Read more stories here.

Nursing alumna Alanna Bergman began working in the real world early. While pursuing her BSN degree in the College of Public Health’s Department of Nursing, she began an externship at Albert Einstein Medical Center. She stayed at Einstein after graduating, and now she’s a certified registered nurse practitioner at Einstein’s Immunodeficiency Center in North Philadelphia, offering primary care for patients living with HIV.

In a way, though, Bergman never truly left Temple—she’s now an adjunct professor in the Department of Nursing. Bergman discussed how the teaching style at Temple prepared her for where she works today, and brought her back to the college as an educator herself.

How did you come to work with the immunodeficiency clinic and as an adjunct professor at Temple?

I’ve been at Einstein for a while. While I was at Temple I did a nurse externship. I’d take classes at Temple, then take the subway to work. Then I was in the ICU, and while I was in my master’s program I did a clinical rotation in the Immunodeficiency Center. They hired me after graduation.

I’ve been an adjunct professor at Temple for about two years. I really liked teaching in the clinic setting where I was before then. I got in touch with [Department of Nursing Undergraduate Program Director] Pat DiGiacomo, and Temple seemed like a better fit. The administration and the didactic style matched the way I wanted to teach, so I continued to pursue adjuncting here.

How did your College of Public Health education inform your career path?

It was huge. A lot of the work I do is very clinical. Most of my patients live in North Philadelphia or in similar, immediate surroundings. A lot of socioeconomic factors go into that, and we have to pay attention to them.

At Temple, the nursing faculty stressed partnering with the community and being aware of factors outside the hospital that played into the patient’s ability to prioritize their health care. That was at the forefront of our education at Temple: that factors like poverty, mental illness or lack of education could prevent people from adhering to treatment regimens.

In other places, they’d maybe get labeled as non-compliant. We learned that’s not the same thing as someone who has to choose between paying for their gas bill or paying for their medication.

What are some highlights from your experience as a Temple student?

I was involved in the student nursing association and was in charge of community service. We did a lot of events that were fun, like toy drives at Christmastime at the College of Public Health.

Also, I remember really loving the vaccine clinic, which we did very early on our clinical careers. We went downtown to a homeless shelter and did a clinic there. I liked that we were out in the community and providing education. You get a perspective when you’re there on the patient’s own turf versus when they’re coming to see you in the hospital.

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Posted:  September 15, 2017