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Marian University student gains valuable knowledge interning in hometown
May 15, 2013

Kayla Lukoski, who graduates with honors in May from Marian University with a degree in social work, has spent her final year of college impacting others in her hometown.

The Ripon native, daughter of Dave and Sherry Lukoski, completed a year-long internship at Agnesian HealthCare’s Ripon Medical Center. Three days a week, from August to May, Kayla trekked from her Fond du Lac campus to Ripon for the internship. She compiled more than 500 hours - more than required for her degree.

Working in the Care Management department alongside Linda Powell, a social worker for 33 years, Kayla focused on managing the care of patients upon discharge from the hospital.   The role included making sure patients received the necessary help and social services available to them once they were discharged. That included things like getting home-delivered meals, finding home care, an assisted living facility, a support group or hospice, if necessary.

The main thrust and grand finale of her internship, however, was localizing a national project - National Health Care Decisions Day - an event that culminated on April 16, just days before her internship ended. The April 16 national event is held annually to make the public aware of the importance of filling out an Advance Medical Directive.

“The Advance Medical Directive is a document an individual fills out and signs, ideally when they are still healthy, to appoint someone as their healthcare decision-maker if and when they can no longer make decisions on their own,” Kayla says, noting anyone over the age of 18 can fill out the paperwork on themselves.

A misconception is that, if married, the spouse automatically becomes the healthcare decision-maker for the other. “Your spouse can’t make your health care decisions unless you have listed them as the designated person to do so in the document,” Kayla says.

To help bring awareness to the importance of the Advance Medical Directive, Kayla worked with Agnesian HealthCare’s Public Relations to get posters, advertisements and news releases to the media prior to the April 16 national awareness campaign. She also set up a booth on the first floor of Ripon Medical Center to help people fill out the Advance Medical Directive paperwork.  

“It was reassuring to see people come up to my booth for assistance in filling out the form,” Kayla said, noting many had the article or ad from the newspaper in their hand. “I enjoyed being an advocate for such an important document.”

“This was a national event, but Kayla was able to make it home-grown,” says Linda Powell. “She localized it. Her assistance with actually filing the document out made people more comfortable in completing it. She is smart, is a fast learner and will make an excellent social worker. She connects well with people and worked hard to help our patients get the services they needed.”

Feelings are mutual, according to Kayla who says working with Linda and being able to intern in her hometown hospital was especially rewarding. “I really enjoyed working with Linda.  I learned so much from her and the rest of the staff.”     

As for her future, Kayla hopes to land a full-time job as a social worker after graduation. She also has plans to attend graduate school part-time to attain her master’s degree.

Her career interest is in medical social work and working with individuals with disabilities.

“I always knew I wanted to help people in some way, and social work seemed like the best fit,” Kayla says. “Experiencing it first in my hometown, through the internship, was very gratifying.”

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