One thing that commonly occurs with internships is that the internship job description does not match your actual internship. This was not the case for me -- my job description matched my actual internship. (This was most likely due to a combination of luck and also careful, well-thought-out planning by my supervisor.)
Before I delve into the details, let me give some context to how my internship fits into the larger picture. My internship is with Blue Shield of California (BSC), in the Network Management department. This department manages BSC's network of medical providers and groups statewide. I work on a project under the Network Management department, called the "Regional Strategy" (RS) program. RS is tasked with finding cost savings in the system. (I should put in a note here: I'm vastly simplifying this context for the sake of ease-of-reading, but if you're interested in more detail, let me know.)
An example of cost savings would be realizing that BSC members are using a hospital for a certain type of procedure. However, across the street is a free-standing, fully certified clinic, which can perform the same procedure for less money. By channeling members to go to the cheaper clinic instead of the more expensive hospital for the same service, BSC can realize that difference in costs as savings.
So, how do projects focusing on savings come about? Here's the general process: during the summer, RS teams begin examining opportunities in their region to save healthcare costs. Usually by the end of the summer, the feasible projects are finalized, and the teams typically begin the projects the following year.
And so this brings me to my internship. My main duty this summer is to document and support the RS program for 2010. This entails supporting the RS teams in brainstorming ideas for savings, running reports to see potential opportunities, documenting potential projects and issues, and managing timelines to ensure that teams meet their milestones.
It's been a great opportunity, and I'm glad on many levels that I got this position. In my future posts, I'll talk more about my daily life as an intern at BSC.