Two University of Maine at Presque Isle students were able to get real-world experience creating promotional materials for a hospital-based rehabilitation unit in Bangor, Maine, and have that unit use their work, as part of their fieldwork practicum in Professional Communication and Journalism.
Ben Pinette and Kathi Jandreau, both senior English/PCJ majors hailing from Caribou, were able to create promotional videos, brochures and a booklet during the spring semester for Eastern Maine Medical Center Inpatient Acute Rehabilitation, which provides individualized, integrated rehabilitation care for those suffering a wide range of injuries or illnesses, such as stroke, head trauma, spinal cord injuries and a host of other disorders. The plan is for the Rehab Unit to use the items alongside its other promotional materials to help patients, visitors and the general public understand and acclimate to the unit.
The UMPI students were able to take part in this opportunity after faculty member Dr. Jacqui Lowman, Associate Professor of Professional Communication and Journalism, became aware that some of EMMC Inpatient Acute Rehab's promotional materials were in need of updating. Lowman serves on EMMC's patient advisory council and offered to have some of her students help with the project. Lowman oversees the PCJ program and thought the PCJ 396: Fieldwork Practicum course she teaches would be the perfect opportunity to have students work on this project. She approached Pinette and Jandreau, who were about to take the practicum, earlier this year about the idea and both were thrilled to get involved.
"The point of the practicum is for students to have a final, major entrepreneurial project and we try to have a fit for what they think they'd like to do when they graduate," Dr. Lowman explained. "This project was related to marketing, healthcare, and promotional materials and the students had to produce and present a major body of work. We were all thrilled to have the opportunity to work on such a major project. Having that kind of trust and faith from the EMMC folks was phenomenal."
In January before spring classes were underway, Pinette and Dr. Lowman spent two rigorous days working with one of EMMC's media relations personnel on filming about 10 hours' worth of footage, including 15 interviews, for one part of the project. Pinette cut the footage down to a 15-minute general video featuring doctors, therapists, nursing staff, a dietitian, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a pharmacist, a former patient and a social worker. This video will be shown to patients and family caregivers on the EMMC Inpatient Acute Rehab Unit. Pinette also edited down the footage to a much shorter video that will be featured on EMMC's website. He also created rehab spotlight videos featuring a stroke patient, a traumatic brain injury patient, and two spinal cord injury patients to be used for educational purposes and other health functions.
Following the filming trip, Dr. Lowman brought back the packet of materials that patients receive and asked Jandreau to identify materials that could be updated. Jandreau proposed a different breakdown of the information, into two brochures—"Why Acute Hospital-Based Rehab?" to explain the difference between acute and skilled care and "EMMC Patient Rehab Center" to discuss the many services people receive, as well as a "Meet the Team" booklet. Jandreau then organized the information and designed the materials. EMMC officials were able to provide feedback on the materials throughout the process and the students were able to present their work at EMMC Inpatient Acute Rehab in Bangor in May.
"I had such a rewarding experience with EMMC this past semester," Ben Pinette said. "I knew it was going to be a great challenge, but I also knew that this work was very important for me and EMMC. When we went back down to EMMC in May to present our work to the staff and the advisory council, I was so proud and elated that they liked what we had done. It was an unforgettable project and a great one to put on my resume for life after UMPI."
As for EMMC Inpatient Acute Rehab, officials there are delighted to have these free materials for their use and to have provided the students with a real-world work experience.
"Working on this project with the UMPI students, their professor, the Patient/Family Advisory Council and the Rehab staff was an enriching experience," said Lisa Fortier, an LSW with the Maine Rehabilitation Center who worked closely with the UMPI team on the project. "The products created are a gift to our Unit for which we are ever so grateful. The print material and videos will benefit future patients and families who are in need of rehabilitation and will serve as both educational and marketing tools for EMMC Acute Rehab."
Pinette and Jandreau have since graduated from UMPI, but Dr. Lowman said the benefits they gained from their experience will serve them for a long time to come.
"One of the aspects that makes the UMPI program stand out is its emphasis on real world partnerships. People graduate with a portfolio of projects that have made a difference. The motto of our program is: 'Everyone's a Communicator.' As a teacher, it's a delight to see the students realize and tap their gifts and use them to help others. Then they go on and keep doing amazing things," Lowman said.
For more information about UMPI's Professional Communication and Journalism program, contact Dr. Lowman at 207.768.9745.