St. Olaf Magazine | Fall 2019

Piper Center Intern: Yinglin Sun ’21

Yinglin Sun, photographed at Mayo Clinic by Tom Roster
Yinglin Sun ’21
Nursing and Women and Gender Studies majors | Family Studies concentration
Research Intern, Mayo Clinic Media Support Services
Rochester, Minnesota

Mayo Clinic recently moved away from the traditional cable-based TV system in each patient’s room to a Netflix-like streaming service called Mayo Clinic TV (MCTV), which offers on-demand shows and movies, educational videos, and relaxation/music content. The change created a long-term project for the clinic’s Media Support Services, which is evaluating the effectiveness of the streaming platform in satisfying patients’ entertainment and educational needs.

Yinglin Sun had a hand in helping out with the project this summer as a research intern. The internship opened her eyes to how something as seemingly simple as TV viewing can affect patient outcomes.

“Mayo’s television system plays a significant role in a patient’s experience,” Sun says. “The entertainment content can distract patients from pain, boredom, and worry, and provide some normalcy to their routine, which has been disrupted by admission to the hospital. The education content empowers patients to participate in their care, which leads to significantly better health outcomes.”

As a member of the clinic’s Media Support Services team, Sun helped research ways to improve MCTV to make it more user-friendly, particularly for older patients. She compiled and analyzed the results of nursing and patient satisfaction surveys and then presented her findings to the project’s executive team. The work required strong communication skills, as Sun found herself working with a variety of Mayo constituents, from patients and nursing managers to staff members in the Office of Patient Education.

Though an internship in media support services might seem like an odd match for a nursing student, Sun says that’s not the case.

“At St. Olaf, we’re taught to look into the social, environmental, and mental factors that contribute to a patient’s health. We’re taught to be analysts, to ease patients’ concerns and illnesses in ways beyond pharmaceutical treatments,” she says. “I think a patient’s experience is just as important as getting their illness treated, and oftentimes a comfortable hospital environment can improve both the patient’s physical and mental health. This was why I chose this specific project and why I chose nursing ― to build personal connections with my patients and critically address their needs to provide them quality holistic care.”

Sun was mentored at Mayo Clinic by Stephen Sponsel ’82, P’12, P’09, a director in Media Support Services. She is part of St. Olaf’s alumni-supported Health Scholars at the Mayo Clinic program, a cohort of eight interns who receive stipends from the college and live together in Rochester, Minnesota, while pursuing internships at Mayo.

Sun plans to become a public health nurse, working to eliminate health disparities by addressing the linguistic and cultural barriers that face many minority communities. She says interning at Mayo helped her realize that public health implies solving problems for all kinds of patients.

“Improving the MCTV system’s usability required asking questions like ‘How do we improve it to meet the needs of hearing impaired patients?’ ‘How could the TV remote be modified to reduce bacteria harboring in the cracks?’ These are public health concerns, and I am learning to think in multiple dimensions to ensure patient satisfaction. The skills I’ve learned here will certainly be applicable as a public health nurse.”