Social work interns at CVAHCS ready to graduate
Watch most prime-time medical television shows and you would think that interns only work in emergency rooms or at operating tables. In reality, interns participate in almost every aspect of a hospital setting, including social work.
Seven Masters of Social Work interns have been working and learning at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Columbia Veterans Affairs Health Care System, (CVAHCS), and are getting ready to graduate. The College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina (USC), also located in Columbia, has had close ties with the CVAHCS for years.
“The College has enjoyed a partnership with the VA for well over 20 years,” said Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, the Director of Field Education at USC. “I’m very pleased with our relationship with the VA and the leadership Xavier Green provides.” Green is the Social Work Education and Training Coordinator at the CVAHCS. “He has been a tremendous asset to the partnership we enjoy with the VA,” added Reitmeier.
The USC College of Social Work is a leading, research-based learning setting that is a Top 20% Social Work program nationally, according to US News & World Report. USC requires graded practice experiences for both the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work programs. The master’s students must log nearly 1,000 hours of practice experience and related coursework to graduate. USC partners with more than 500 agencies in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, including most VA locations, to deliver high-quality, real-world learning for their students.
“When I was first told about the opportunity to intern with the VA, it was no question that this opportunity would be a good fit for me,” said Jericha Peterson, from Charleston, South Carolina.
“The VA is full of incredible opportunities that aid a population that is more than deserving,” said Guiliana Cozzo, from Rochester, New York.
Helping others seems to be a common thread among the USC interns.
“I could not imagine working in a profession that did not allow me the opportunity to provide services and support for those in need,” said Tara Hayes, from Lancaster, South Carolina.
“I have always wanted to help others become greater than they have ever thought or imagined,” said Angela Andrews, from Gaffney, South Carolina. Andrews retired from the U.S. Navy after 24 years and decided to go into the USC social work program. She has been employed at CVAHCS for 12 years. “Being an agent for change comes from the heart for me.”
The Veterans Health Administration operates the largest and most comprehensive clinical training program for social workers. The Columbia VA Health Care System’s Master of Social Work (MSW) Graduate Student Internship Program offers a well-rounded clinical experience to second-year master’s level or Advanced Standing MSW students from seven universities across the Southeast. Columbia VA Health Care System provides students with a unique opportunity to explore and learn about many areas of social work in a health care setting.
Ashley Crone is an Acute Care Social Worker, specializing in the Intensive Care Unit. She is also a social work intern instructor for the USC interns. “This exposure helps students develop different interests in the field of social work and promotes growth within themselves in their clinical practice. When I was a student, I was very grateful to have this opportunity while in college prior to becoming a clinical Social Worker.” Crone, a life-long South Carolina native, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work at USC.
"Our goal is to train and educate social worker interns who are interested in serving Veterans to become future employees," said Sherree Colvin, Chief of Social Work Service at CVAHCS. “Succession Planning and Professional Development are fundamental steps to a social work journey,” added Yolanda Brown, the Assistant Chief of Social Work Service. “Having Social Work Interns as a part of the VA work force is the key to growing the Social Work Services.”
The partnership between the University of South Carolina College of Social Work and the Columbia VA Health Care System has been successful and fulfilling for USC and the VA. It has brought interns wanting to learn how to help into contact with Veterans in need of that help. Maybe they need a television show called ‘Dorn’s Anatomy.’