By Julia Greenland
Last summer LHU senior Danielle Tolton discovered the career of her dreams with Mercy Suburban Hospital, located in Norristown, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. As a Biology and Psychology major, Tolton was pleased to intern with the Senior Behavioral Health Unit, a geriatric dementia unit for psychiatric patients.
The Senior Behavioral Health Unit cares for patients already admitted into the hospital and also admits elderly from nursing homes. These patients must be at least age sixty-five, with psychiatric difficulties, for example dementia or psychosis. The unit then provides both psychiatric and medical treatment for these patients.
Tolton worked alongside various medical students, nurses, psychiatrists and social workers. They allowed her to lead group therapy sessions each morning for the patients. These sessions allowed the patients to interact with one another and helped to orient them because they usually could not remember the day, year, or where they were. Through these sessions, Tolton comforted the patients and helped them to understand that the hospital was there to help them.
Tolton also assisted with serving breakfast. She would distribute trays, spoon-feed those who needed the extra help, and clean up the dining room when breakfast was finished.
During the afternoon Tolton planned, organized and led activities. They often played bingo, watched movies, and played flashcard games to help trigger memory. Tolton was amazed at her patients’ memories and experiences. While most people now remember getting their first ipod, these patients remember turning on their first radio. These activities provided the patients with the opportunity to interact with one another and know that other people were in their same situation.
Sometimes Tolton helped the supervising Geriatric Psychiatrist with a project on Serotonin Syndrome. Occasionally, a patient’s medication can cause an excessive amount of Serotonin to flow through the brain, which can be potentially fatal. They begin to lose their motor abilities, have tremors in their extremities, and lose cognition. However, if patients stop taking the medication, their conditions will improve within twenty-four hours.
When a patient in Tolton’s unit displayed signs of Serotonin Syndrome, his medication was stopped, and he was placed under twenty-four hour surveillance. Tolton stated that for this case study, “I did daily observations and discussed the syndrome with the psychiatrist. For the most part, I did my own research through medical journals on the syndrome and incorporated it into my paper at the conclusion of the internship.”
The most difficult part of Tolton’s internship was working with the patients’ loved ones. “It was harder to work with the families than the patients,” she said. Loved ones could become frustrated with their family members for their loss of memory. The patients’ family had to deal with a once cognitive person, now deteriorating before their eyes. Family members had to realize “you can’t go in and get surgery to make everything better. Geriatrics is a different type of medicine,” stated Tolton. She knew dementia is irreversible and the best way to help both the patients and their families was to keep them as comfortable as possible.
Tolton’s most memorable moment was when she realized she made a difference in someone’s life. One day a typically anti-social, very quiet, but argumentative elderly patient refused to take his medication or participate in activities. He became combative with his nurse, and Tolton was sent to calm him down. They decided to take a walk around the geriatric unit. While Tolton pushed his wheelchair, held his hand and chattered on about various things, the man simply smiled and nodded at her. She could tell he did not fully understand everything she was saying, but was still enjoying her company. They detoured to the group therapy room so Tolton could speak with the psychiatrist, and when she returned from her conversation, the man held out his hand to her and said, “Where’d you go?” Tolton was amazed that he both recognized and spoke to her. “I knew he really appreciated me. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of working there. His joy was worth everything, and I was happy to know I helped,” she said.
Tolton expected her internship to be monotonous work, but she woke up every morning excited to go the hospital. As modern medicine allows people to live longer, geriatric doctors grow in necessity. Tolton took an interest in everything she learned, and realized she wants a career in geriatrics. “I didn’t know I was this passionate about being involved with the patients. I want to immerse myself in the patients’ lives to make them more comfortable,” stated Tolton.
Tolton obtained her internship by asking the hospital for permission to intern there. “It was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m glad I pushed for it because it helped solidify my career plans. I wouldn’t take it back for anything, and I’m going back to volunteer,” she stated. If you are interested in obtaining an internship, contact your advisor, talk with your professors, ask friends and family, or check out the internships on the Career Services website: www.lhup.edu/careerservices.
By Julia Greenland
Working in a maximum security prison is not the average person’s ideal career. LHU senior Ashley Hippler, however, not only felt at ease interning in this kind of environment, but she cannot wait to begin her career there. Using her Psychology major, Hippler interned during the 2010 Fall semester at the State Correctional Institute in Muncy, Pennsylvania.
SCI Muncy is an all female maximum security prison that houses inmates whose sentences range from two years to life. SCI Muncy is also the only female prison in the state to harbor death row inmates.
As the Psychology intern, Hippler worked with the institution’s Psychology staff. They were all friendly, encouraged her to take initiative, and had faith in the programs she designed. Hippler developed a goal setting workshop for young adult offenders aged 16-22. Inmates could set any goal for themselves to meet, long or short term. One woman began taking correspondence classes for college, and another woman started learning German.
Hippler assisted in a Border Line Group. Designed for people with severe borderline personality disorders, the group helped them to learn to how to live within the society of the prison. Hippler also assisted with the Sex Offender Program. This program examined the inmates’ sexual past from childhood to adulthood. The women discussed the different types of rape, how to have a healthy sexual relationship, and how to maintain healthy relationships with others in general.
Each morning Hippler would meet with her supervisors. She would then attend at least one group meeting each day. Then after lunch she would go to the Restrictive Housing Unit where the disciplinary custody inmates and capital cases were housed. Hippler would talk through the door to each inmate to see how she was doing that day. Also, during the day, if the prison had incoming inmates, Hippler would help to settle them into the prison by conducting their psychological assessments.
Hippler was most shocked to find that “I was more comfortable than I thought I would be,” she said. “I thought I would be nervous to be surrounded by so many inmates. I was not expecting so many of them to walk as freely.” The inmates would walk from building to building like students would at a college campus. Guards would sign off on their hall passes before leaving and entering a building.
When asked what Hippler learned about herself through this experience, she said that the group sessions taught her to read people better. “I’ve learned to pick up when people are lying,” she stated. Hippler has also learned to be more assertive and that she is not obligated to please everybody.
Hippler’s Counseling Skills class at LHU helped prepare her for interning at the SCI Muncy. In class she learned how to empathize correctly during group therapy. It taught her to listen properly and how to encourage people to open up and talk to her.
Interning at the State Correctional Institute in Muncy was a positive experience for Hippler. The internship “solidified what I want to do. I know for certain now what I want to do,” she said. Hippler would like to become a Forensic Psychologist and work with people who have behavior problems. For example, working with the sex offenders at SCI Muncy made her realize that she would like to create programs that work with sex offenders. Because of her internship, Hippler is excited and confident about her ability to work in Forensics with this type of population.
Ashley Hippler found her internship with the State Correctional Institute in Muncy through a meeting with her advisor. If you are interested in an internship contact your advisor or take a look at the many internship opportunities available at the Career Services website, www.lhup.edu/careerservices.
By Julia Greenland
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By Julia Geenland
At first nervous and skeptical of doing her internship, senior Tabitha Guillaume now cannot stop encouraging other students to do one as well. Guillaume, a Psychology major at Lock Haven University, interned at the Clinton County Women’s Center in Lock Haven. The Women’s Center was the perfect place for Guillaume to spend her summer because she knew the internship would relate well to her future career and would give her valuable experience. “My main goal is that I want to be a women’s counselor or therapist,” said Guillaume.
The Clinton County Women’s Center is a non-profit organization and offers a variety of services to the community. “It is a place for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” stated Guillaume, “It offers shelter for victims, counseling, support groups, housing resources, children’s counseling, and community outreach.”
During her internship Guillaume performed an array of duties and was always excited to take on more responsibility. She was involved in children’s activities and childcare, answered phones, organized the kitchen, and made sure the kitchen was properly stocked with food. Guillaume also helped incoming victims settle into the Women’s Center by helping them fill out paperwork and attending court with them as a form of emotional support. Three to four times a week Guillaume accompanied them to court. She never testified, but knew she boosted the victim’s confidence simply by being there for her.
Guillaume learned the value of empowerment counseling at the Women’s Center. In this form of counseling, “You don’t tell the client what to do. You lay out the options, and you let them decide. You get the client to be independent again,” stated Guillaume.
Guillaume worked a forty hour week but had no set schedule. She would arrive in the morning and attend a staff meeting to talk about the people staying in the center. The rest of the day’s activities remained unpredictable. Some days the phone would ring off-the-hook, and other days not all.
Once when Guillaume was responsible for manning the front door, a crying woman with a child asked to be admitted. Guillaume admitted the woman and settled her into the center. Guillaume particularly remembers this moment because she helped the woman on her own and was surprised at her own initiative.
Guillaume’s internship immensely broadened her knowledge of counseling. “Counseling comes in many different forms,” she said, “There is not just one way to talk to someone.” Her understanding of domestic violence and sexual assault has also changed since interning. “It opened my eyes up to different kinds of problems. There is more violence than expected in this area because it is not an issue often talked about,” stated Guillaume.
Before interning at the Women’s Center, Guillaume was unsure if she could be of help to anyone. Now she realizes she can make a difference in someone’s life and that she has the ability to counsel people. Real experience made Guillaume realize counseling is important to her, and that it is what her future holds. She recommends all students intern because the experience, “Fulfills a little part of that dream that you have to do something.”
Tabitha Guillaume found her internship at the Clinton County Women’s Center through a meeting with her advisor.
By Amanda Alexander
Most college students spend a good deal of time giving out advice to their peers, but for her summer internship Katelyn Ruossos really put her listening skills to good use by working with troubled kids.
From May through August, Ruossos, a psychology major, worked with Hermitage House Youth Services in Cambridge Springs, PA, near her hometown of Erie. She received a stipend for her work as well as college credit.
Hermitage House Youth Shelter interns participate in staff meetings, attend court hearings, meet with caseworkers and probations officers, interact with parents, counsel kids and oversee activities. Of the five interns chosen, Ruossos was the only one placed in the youth shelter.
“I was nervous. I didn’t know what I was doing,” Ruossos admitted.
She became even more nervous when she realized how much was expected of her. “I was basically just another employee,” said Ruossos, who was quickly thrown into the job. “They pretty much showed me what to do and let me go on my own.”
However, Ruossos quickly adjusted to the job and got to know the kids she worked with. Her favorite aspect of the internship was talking to the kids in one-on-one counseling sessions.
“It was a little different (being at the shelter),” she said. “These are all delinquent adolescents or they’re pulled out of bad homes.”
A typical day for Ruossos started when the kids got up for the day, and consisted of making and eating meals and spending time with the kids. Most of her time was spent talking to the kids about their problems.
Her favorite thing about the internship was getting to know the kids and spending time with them. Unfortunately being at the shelter meant Ruossos saw a steady flow of kids going in and out. “There was a lot of overturn,” she said.
Her least favorite thing about the internship was cooking and doing housekeeping tasks like laundry.
Ruossos would like to be a psychologist in a private practice, and hadn’t particularly wanted to work with kids before her internship, but she found herself opening up to the experience as she got used to it. “I never expected to want to work with adolescents. Now I find myself more willing,” she said.
One of the most exciting things Ruossos got to experience during her internship was going to court dates with the kids. “I’d never been in a courtroom before,” she said, explaining that she was there for moral support “and to help them through the jitters.”
Ruossos advises students who are thinking about doing an internship, “Dive into it as soon as you can, because it’ll be over before you know it.”
With the minimal on-the-job training she received, Ruossos was glad she could apply the things she’d learned in class to her internship. “My psych classes helped,” she said. Ruossos also said the things she learned on the job helped make her classes come to life. “It helped me relate what we’re talking about to real life experiences” she said, especially in her counseling skills class.
Ruossos feels that the internship will give her an edge over other graduates that she can use to help further her education and her career.
“I think it gave me the kind of experience in a clinical setting that grad schools are looking for,” she said, adding that it also gave her confidence in her ability to handle situations and the knowledge that she is in the right field.
Ruossos was sad when the time came for her internship to end because of the great relationships she fostered with the kids. “It was hard to say goodbye,” she said. Ruossos has found it hard to keep in touch with the kids at the shelter because they often only stay for short periods of time, but she said she will always remember the experiences she had there.
By Julia Greenland
Most people watch our justice system in action from the comfort of their home through dramatized television shows like Law and Order or CSI. Nicole Tarbox, however, stepped outside the comfort of her home to work with our state’s justice system.
Tarbox, a Psychology major and senior at Lock Haven University, spent last spring interning at the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (P.B.P.P.) in Harrisburg with their Office of Policy, Legislative Affairs and Communications (O.P.L.A.C). The office in which Tarbox worked, keeps tabs on parole violators and determines which offenders may be released on parole.
Moving from Northern Pennsylvania to the city of Harrisburg, Tarbox noticed a contrast in the way of life, but still said the city was “Amazing!” Beginning her internship was stressful for Tarbox because she had much to learn. However, Tarbox remembers the other employees were understanding and supportive of her in her first internship.
Tarbox’s responsibilities included helping the director of the office find information to relate back to the chairman. Tarbox remembered “play[ing] detective” for missing in action parole violators. She searched through Interstate Absconder Files and checked various other databases and websites for information on the parole violators. Tarbox also input data into spreadsheets for other employees.
Work at O.P.L.A.C. was generally calm and steady paced. Occasionally, though, board meetings caused the office to fall into chaos. In those instances Tarbox was often relied on to gather information quickly and remembered scrambling to find and organize information in a short amount of time.
Tarbox’s most memorable moment was observing a video conference between a parole board member and a prisoner at a correctional institute. As the board member and prisoner negotiated parole, the conference intensified. Tarbox felt like the man was in the room with her. “It was crazy because you forgot he’s on the other side of the screen,” she said.
Tarbox learned about herself and life through the internship: “I can manage my time better than I thought. I am more responsible than I thought when I’m left to do things on my own.”
Though Tarbox deemed her internship experience a success, she stated, “It showed me what I don’t want to do with my life. I was considering becoming a parole officer, but now I know that’s not what I want to do.”
Tarbox’s experience made her aware of the people in prison for drug and alcohol related offences. Instead of becoming a parole officer, Tarbox is now open to the possibility of becoming a drug and alcohol therapist. She also stated that the internship made her love her major and now wants to learn even more about Psychology.
Tarbox said simply that interning “was a wonderful experience.” She recommends interning to all students, because it will help them grasp their field better, gain more knowledge, and expose them to real life.
Tarbox’s internship was made possible through The Harrisburg Internship Semester Program (THIS). Recruiting for the Spring Semester will begin shortly.
Students must have a 3.0 GPA minimum and must have completed 60 credit hours. Interested students may contact Stan Berard at email@example.com
There is more information on the THIS program available at www.passhe.edu/this
Nicole Tarbox found her internship through an email sent to her by a professor; however, if you are interested in finding an internship, a great place to start is at Career Services, Akeley 114. back to top