Jennifer Reaves

Describe the steps you took to obtain your internship/research opportunity/fellowship.

I did research and used networking to identify who the intern liaison was at the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. I then gave her a call and shared my interest in securing an internship with the V.A. I was then selected for a panel interview with 19 social workers and supervisors. I passed the interview, and successfully secured my clinical field internship with the V.A.

How far in advance did you prepare and begin applying for your experiential learning opportunity?

I began preparing in March, and applied in May. The internship process is lengthy and not fast, and there are a lot of parts to the application that needed to be gathered and completed.

Describe some of your responsibilities or duties during your experiential learning opportunity.

I interned at a Veterans residential substance abuse and mental health treatment facility in Orlando, FL. I conducted admissions on new patients coming into the facility, gathering psychosocial history and building rapport with them. I identified any basic needs they had, such as clothing, hygiene needs, phone, iPads, and medical, mental, and social support needs. I participated in treatment team meetings on an interdisciplinary team and helped patients identify goals and steps to take such as obtaining employment, or their DD214, or creating a housing plan. I co-facilitated group psychotherapy and taught the patients skills such as mindfulness and progressive muscle relaxation.

What was a typical day like "on the job"?

Every day was different! We would begin the day with a clinical team shift report which the RN would brief the day shift on what happened the night before, who had medical appointments that day, any crisis or concerns, urine drug screen results, etc. Then we would begin our groups, or start seeing patients individually for case management or treatment team meetings. There was the occasional Baker Act referrals and disruptive behavior interventions as well.

What are some major takeaways from your experience? How will these help prepare you for the future?

Major takeaways for me were to always be aware of my surroundings, and to allow for therapeutic silence when necessary. Sometimes the most important breakthroughs are happening in silence, and speaking at the wrong time can disrupt that healing process.

Did this experience help clarify your career path? If yes, how so?

Absolutely. I have always had a passion for working with our most vulnerable populations. My past experience has been in supporting individuals, families, and students that are experiencing homelessness. With this final internship, I have discovered a passion for assisting our Veterans in improving their lives and functioning. Interning as a medical social worker on an interdisciplinary team environment has broadened my experience and I am so very grateful to have had this amazing growth opportunity.

Jennifer Reaves

" I heard about the Internship Fund through an FSU newsletter, and I signed up for and attended an information session. It was just what I needed to help financially support my long commute and the tolls that were a daily cost on my one and a half hour drive each day.”

Major: Master of Social Work
Current Position: Eckerd Connects