Education comes in many forms. Summer Alonso, a clinical health assistant at Accolade, finds traditional settings, life experiences and professional experiences to all be important learning tools in the health care industry.

(Photo Courtesy of  Summer Alonso)

(Photo Courtesy of Summer Alonso)

Where did you get your degree?

“I received degrees from Harcum College for nursing and Kutztown University for management and general business. I also studied abroad at Hogeschool Haarlem, where my studies were concentrated in international business, law and management.”

Can you describe your role in health care?

“I am a clinical health assistant at Accolade, where I help individuals and families get the right care by navigating all aspects of the health benefits and health care worlds for them. Every day, I have health care conversations with clients that vary from minutes to an hour or longer, depending on the individual person and family’s needs. On these calls, I do anything from answering a question about a medical claim to managing an entire process around cancer treatment.

The approach I take with clients is tailored to their specific needs, level of health care literacy, culture and other factors. A large part of this role includes interacting with the whole person over time; our approach is about much more than just the ‘medical.’ We look at how a variety of issues impact care and health choices, including family, personal beliefs and culture, history and experiences with previous medical interactions, knowledge and even those emotions we all have about our personal and our family’s health.”

How has education prepared you for your career?

“I believe that education comes in many forms, from traditional settings like universities to formal continuing education, life experiences and professional experiences. It is critical to learn not only about medical conditions, but also about behavioral/mental health and various cause-and-effect relationships across a person’s entire life. Having solid foundations in nursing skills as well as fine-tuned critical thinking and communication skills has prepared me for this career.”

What continuing education is required for your role?

“Continuing education is a requirement for maintaining a nursing license in the state of Pennsylvania.”

Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at

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