What It's Like to Intern at Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care
“I want to make a difference.”
For many young people, especially those who may be considering a career in the healthcare professions, that sentiment probably has a familiar ring to it.
Internships often can provide vital first-hand experience and insights that will help students decide upon their fields of study as well as their career path. For college students studying in fields such as healthcare, medical social work, nursing, spiritual care, palliative medicine or medical records, an internship with Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care could well provide just such an eye-opening experience.
A Great Learning Experience
Chanelle Mayo, a University of Southern California student who is in the process of getting her second Master’s degree (social welfare) recently completed a three-semester-long internship at Crossroads’ Philadelphia regional office.
“The Crossroads program is definitely unique and different from other hospice agencies that I’ve known or experienced,” says Chanelle. “From the different programs they provide, their dedication to all patients and families, to the work ethic of all the employees, it’s been a great learning experience.”
Chanelle says the opportunity to shadow staff from Crossroads’ different departments participating in bi-weekly team meetings, making bereavement follow-up calls, and completing Gift of A Day requests was particularly eye-opening.
“It was great to see how they work together as a team to support patients and families. They actually treat them like their own family. They are all amazing,” she says.
A Variety of Patient and Family-Focused Programs
For many interns, the range and variety of programs that Crossroads makes available to patients and families can be both challenging and rewarding.
“I have been focusing on learning a social worker’s role and how they work with clients and their families through the dying process,” says Megan McManus, student from Cleveland State interning in the Cleveland office. “My favorite task was working with a client and their family to create a Life Journal. It was extremely gratifying to learn about a patient’s life and make a keepsake for their family to cherish.”
“I felt the Gift of the Day activities were the most rewarding to me personally because of the instant positive outlook it provides to our patients,” notes Kathryn Hite, another Cleveland State intern. “It not only brightens their day, but leaves them with a memory that the individual, family, and friends will never forget. It will always be something that brings happiness to their world, no matter the condition of the individual.”
Quantia Bates, a Crossroads Cleveland intern from Indiana Wesleyan University, says that family focus was especially important to her.
“This experience definitely met my expectations,” she says. “Most internships are just filing paper and being a gopher for the office. With this internship I was actually out in the field working and being productive, meeting with patients and their families.”
Renee Stanford, a University of Akron student intern, agrees: “The most rewarding thing to me was being able to build those relationships with the patients I got to see,” she says. “I was interested in working for hospice before I started my internship and my experience with Crossroads just reinforced that I belong in a hospice setting.”
“Whenever I told anyone, my plans to intern at Crossroads, they would say something like, ‘Wow, that’s going to be really tough and depressing,’” says Megan McManus. “Instead, I found working in hospice to be incredibly rewarding and a fantastic learning experience. Every day of my internship has looked different. I have enjoyed the variety of tasks and opportunities that have been assigned. I look forward to my next semester where I will have more responsibilities and opportunities for growth.”
Kelly Smith, another student intern from the University of Akron, had a similar experience.
“The experience I have had as an intern has been much different than I imagined,” Kelly says. “I have spent many hours helping clients enjoy their last stage of life by spreading happiness and scattering sunshine. Through interning at Crossroads, I have gained a greater repertoire of skills in how to interact with the elderly, grieving families, and other staff members.”
Kathryn Hite notes that her expectations as an intern were not only met, but actually exceeded:
“I truly enjoyed every minute at Crossroads. The supervisors and employees make a point to make you feel included and truly part of their team. As an intern, it will be hard to find better real life experiences in Hospice care than at this placement.”
For many interns, the experience provides a learning experience not only about the world of hospice, but about themselves.
“As I have worked with Crossroads, I have learned a lot about myself and the route I want to take after I graduate with my MSW,” explains Kelly Smith. “I have greatly enjoyed being around the medical field and understanding how many individuals it takes to help one client live more fully. Crossroads is service-oriented and strives to go above and beyond the client and family’s expectations. This mindset is something I will take with me after my internship has been completed. I will continue to pursue a job that is associated with the medical field. Although I might explore other age populations for a time, I could see myself coming back to hospice.”
“The caliber of our interns is typically very high, so the learning experience generally benefits the teachers as well as the students,” says Kristin Kitzmiller, Social Services Director in Crossroads’ Cleveland office. “We want to make sure an internship with Crossroads provides an ideal learning environment which allows students to contribute to the quality care Crossroads is known for.”
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