Charles Adkins (2012-2013)
This week, the spotlight is on 2012-2013 CHCACT AmeriCorps alumnus Charles Adkins. Charles shares details about his AmeriCorps experience at StayWell Health Center in Waterbury during his service term.
What were some of your responsibilities?
Charles: In my role at StayWell, I mainly provided outreach, education and eligibility and enrollment services for the Smile Builders (SB) mobile dental unit.
Do you remember any service projects in which you participated
Charles: One of the most enjoyable was serving a long, tiring, but very rewarding weekend at the CT Mission of Mercy.
I had the opportunity to meet and speak with so many people from all walks of life. Individuals seeking dental treatment from as far away as Virginia, “uber rich” dentists who weren’t so stereotypical and so willing to spend as much time as needed to provide the right treatment to those seeking help, and dozens of other volunteers all just looking to help in any way they could. It was a long three days, but every second was worth it. Plus we all got free massages, can’t go wrong there!
Do you feel that meeting and serving with a peer group of fellow AmeriCorps Members impacted you?
Charles: The most valuable aspect of serving with other Members was having the ability to share in each other’s experience.
We all had different backgrounds and future goals, but we all had the same drive, all wanted to serve our communities, and were all going through the hardships that undoubtedly occur during AmeriCorps. Having that in common was such a relief because we had others to talk to about these things. And even more, it helped us to develop some unexpected friendships.
What was it like for you to serve in a federally qualified health center (FQHC)?
Charles: Starting in high school throughout graduate school, I served (volunteered) in different environments, working with various cultures from rural Maine to an American Indian Reservation in North Carolina to villages in Zambia.
Additionally, growing up a Medicaid recipient, I was very fortunate to receive the care and treatment I needed as a child. I felt like serving in this environment, at an FQHC, was where I belonged because it meant that I had the opportunity to provide great care and service to others, even if just one, who are in the boat I was once in.
What are you doing now?
Charles: I am currently working as a Social Science Research Analyst (Project Officer) with the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), a new agency that is part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). My responsibilities have essentially two main aims.
The first is working collaboratively in the development of advanced alternative payment models (APMs) targeting changes in healthcare from Fee-For-Service to a Quality-based health care & payment system.
The other half of my efforts are focused on aiding acute care hospitals, physician group practices, and post-acute care providers to navigate the APMs that many of them already participate in. However, as of July 2017, I will be moving back into the service realm as my wife and I will be leaving for Botswana with Peace Corps.
How (if at all) do you feel your service year impacted your career path?
Charles: I wouldn’t be here without the service I had performed. Surely, I would be somewhere else, but everywhere I have worked or volunteered since my service there has always been some link. For me, it was my first real applicable professional experience with relation to my public health background. It got me in on the ground floor, afforded me the opportunity to be on the other side of the “public service fence”, and further engrained that goal to serve my community (from the neighborhood level up to the federal level).
How (if at all) do you feel your service year impacted you personally?
Charles: First and foremost, my passion and dedication to public service, in my personal and professional life, was solidified. Moreover, the experiences and training I received on a day-to-day basis were more impactful than I realized at the time. My service, and those who impacted my service, taught me the value of giving your all every day to each opportunity that arises.
Do you recommend other people participate in the CHCACT AmeriCorps program? If so, why?
Charles: Yes, by all means. It won’t be easy, but it’s well worth it. Your service will be enlightening, fun, will require hard work, but it’s a true growth experience, personally and professionally. Also, just see above.
Do you have any advice and/or words of wisdom to share with future participants?
Charles: You may be a bit nervous. That’s fine. It’s normal. But don’t be shy. Dive in head first, ask questions, and have fun.
Most importantly, though, if you are in a position that gives you direct contact with any patients or beneficiaries, or just someone on the street you may be serving at an event, just listen. We all have a story to tell, but we don’t all have someone to tell our story to.
Trust me, you will have many of these opportunities, and you should take full advantage of them. You may not realize it in the moment, but when you look back on it – whether 5 minutes, 5 days, or 5 years later – you will realize it had a larger impact on you than you thought.
*Some answers shortened.