Stephanie Caceres walked the stage for graduation from Iowa State University (ISU) in May – but she wasn’t quite done with her degree. She still needed to do a 400-hour internship to complete her degree in public relations.

Caceres is a 2013 graduate of Denison High School (DHS) and her internship requirement brought her back home for the summer.

She heard about a public relations internship at Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) while she was at ISU.

“I never thought about doing public relations in the medical field,” she said.

She talked with Don Luensmann, CCMH executive director of marketing and development, and Brad Bonner, who is the executive director of human resources at CCMH.

Caceres landed the internship in public relations/marketing and spent the summer working at the hospital.

She started by working on several projects.

“They got a feel for what I wanted to do first and what my expectations were, what kind of projects I wanted to do and then we went from there,” Caceres said.

“One of the things we tried to do while Stephanie was here was to find projects that would be good for her portfolio as she goes out and tries to find a job, but also projects that are really good for us,” Luensmann told the CCMH Board of Trustees on August 26. “One of the things want to spend more time on but really don’t have a chance right now is social media.”

Luensmann said social media is becoming more important all the time and named Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as the primary outlets for CCMH.

When she became more comfortable in the work, Caceres pitched an idea for a major project that helped fill the social media need.

One of the problems with promoting a hospital is the requirement for confidentiality with patients. With a summer internship, the time needed to identify patients to highlight might be more than she could afford – not to mention the supervisory time it would take from hospital staff members.

She instead decided to do her social media project with the CCMH staff members themselves.

“I didn’t really need a lot of supervision for that,” Caceres said.

Her idea was to highlight the CCMH slogan, “We Care for Life.”

She created themes for the workdays: Motivational Monday, Truehearted Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, Therapeutic Thursday and Feel Good Friday.

Her focus was on how the staff members cared for themselves and for each other, Luensmann said.

Caceres encouraged employees from all over the hospital to participate.

“If they chose Monday, I would ask about what motivates them to keep a positive attitude and push through the difficult days and weeks at work,” she said.

“Truehearted Tuesdays questions were about how you stay truehearted about caring for life,” she said. The participants talked about volunteering or other giving activities.

The Wellness Wednesday employees talked about taking care of one’s physical health.

Therapeutic Thursday featured employees from the therapy department and topics such as sports injury prevention.

Emotional and mental health was the topic of Feel Good Fridays.

Caceres also gave each employee an opportunity to say what caring for life means for them.

“That was my way of showing their faces to the community, no matter if they had been there 20 years or had started this year,” she said.

The project was designed to get the community more involved with the hospital on social media.

Posts were made to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at the same time.

Caceres created one post per day for four weeks for a total of 20 posts.

“I had fun and I learned a lot,” she said.

Luensmann said the project was very successful and increased the number of followers of CCMH on all three platforms.

He thanked the CCMH employees for being involved in it.

“It turned out to be a great project for us as well as for Stephanie,” Luensmann told the trustees.

Caceres had initially planned to get a degree in elementary education, but switched to public relations after finding out how much she enjoyed getting people involved with various organizations to which she belonged at ISU.

She likes the idea of using her public relations skills to keep the community informed and involved.

“I can do this for the rest of my life,” she said.

Caceres said she might volunteer at a school to satisfy her interest in working with kids.

After she completed her internship, she took a two-week break, which is now over.

She moves into an apartment in Bellevue, Nebraska, this weekend to be in the area of a possible marketing position at a hospital.

“I like the idea that I can take a step away from home - but home is not too far away if I want to come back,” she said.

Caceres said she is thankful for the support and recommendations she has received from CCMH.

“I know they are there if I need something,” she said.

She enjoys the idea of being able to work in a variety of industries, but is now considering staying in the medical field because it offers many interesting avenues to explore.

“I can still continue to learn in the field but there are other fields I’m also interested in,” she said. “I’m just getting started. There is a whole world out there.”

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