Northwestern Medicine pre-med summer intern making a difference for diabetes patients

Vanderbilt student gets valuable experience creating resource guide

GURNEE – When Bella Flerlage, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University, learned about the Northwestern Medicine pre-med summer internship program, she jumped at the opportunity to gain clinical experience that is not offered to most college students.

With cancellations of in-person classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she began doubting her abilities at school and became unsure about even pursuing medical school, so she thought the summer internship program would help her with her decision.

Flerlage was assigned to work with Dr. Richard Clark, medical director at the new Northwestern Medicine Gurnee Outpatient Center specializing in family medicine. While Flerlage had the opportunity to see a variety of patient cases, there was a multitude of patients with diabetes and she was assigned to create a patient-friendly diabetes resource guide.

“Many times, patients struggle with their diabetes due to the lack of knowledge about their treatment, diet or insulin plan,” Flerlage said in a news release. “Therefore, the goal is to improve patient education with hopes of better overall glycemic control. The guide contains everything from insulin information, diet and mental health management with diabetes.”

“The diabetes resource guide provides a more readily available and convenient way for patients to obtain important information about their condition,” Clark said. “Bella was able to conduct research and find ways to translate what can often be an overwhelming amount of information into a user-friendly resource that I know will benefit our patients.”

Flerlage coordinated inviting glucose meter company representatives to the Gurnee Outpatient Center to directly provide samples of their meters and teach patients how to best use the device.

“Creating the diabetes guide book along with the clinical experience I have gained has solidified my passion for medicine, and I definitely envision myself applying to medical schools in the future,” Flerlage said “Knowing that I have made a contribution to these patients that leads to better patient care is something I will have along with me for the rest of my life.”

Dr. Micah Eimer, cardiologist and medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Glenview Outpatient Center, has overseen the pre-med summer internship program since 2019 and looks forward to introducing the world of medicine to undergraduate, premedical students from across the country.

“We provide a blend of both academic work and observation,” Eimer said. “We are proud to offer these dedicated students, who have already shown a passion for medicine, an eight-week paid opportunity to work with some of the leading experts in medicine.”

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