Skip to Content
Learn what the PACT Act means for your VA benefits

Social Work Internship Program

VA's Social Work Service is designed to help Veterans, and their families, resolve emotional, economic, and psychosocial problems associated with the stresses of illness. A social work internship at the Washington DC VA Medical Center offer qualified students an opportunity to gain real-world experience in the field of social work.

Program Description

Washington DC VA Medical Center offers social work internships in a general, medical hospital that provides outpatient care, specialty clinics, primary care clinics, and a nursing home. All medical and surgical specialties except pediatrics and obstetrics are represented. Advanced treatment and research programs are available in the areas of AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, drug abuse, hemodialysis, oncology, and orthopedic surgery.

The Washington DC VA Medical Center’s Social Work Service operates in close concert with all health care services. Interns can observe, practice and learn about case management and individual, group and family treatment services provided to Veterans and families as they move through the admission, hospitalization and post-hospital care when returning to the community.

The overall goal of the internship program is to train social workers to become effective, independent, and ethical practitioners. During the placement, interns can gain proficiency in assessment, treatment planning, individual work, family work, case management, crisis intervention, and active membership on an interdisciplinary team.

The Washington DC VA Medical Center Social Worker Service is committed to providing quality field instruction to graduate social work interns. Field instructors have the responsibility of working with the students to develop the learning contract, provide opportunities to meet the learning contract objectives, and conduct weekly supervision to reinforce the learning process.

Social work interns can also participate in a weekly, one-hour group supervision, which is facilitated by the Graduate Education Coordinator Team. This provides a forum for students from differing social work schools and placements to collaboratively share ideas, discuss cases and provide support during their internship. Interns will be required to complete an individual case presentation and cohort group project during the year. 

Expectations and Evaluation Criteria

Internship hours typically fit into a regular work week but may be flexible within those parameters. The hours may vary based on the intern's course schedule, VA assignment and university requirements. In addition, interns will observe the following 11 holidays: New Year's Day. Martin Luther King's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

The internship follows a traditional academic calendar, starting around the end of August or beginning of September and ending in late April or early May. The Social Work department is unable to accommodate summer block placements with participating universities. New personnel and interns are required to come to the hospital for physical examinations before reporting to work. Social work interns will be required to complete a security clearance and background check and attend new employee hospital orientation.

Interns will be formally evaluated twice during their placement, and again on an Individual Case Presentation, and their participation in the designated group project.

Who Is Eligible?

Qualified advanced-standing or second year, master-level graduate students enrolled in programs accredited by the Council of Social Work Education are eligible to apply for a social work internship at the Washington DC VA Medical Center.

Washington DC VA Medical Center currently has agreements with five schools. Students from George Mason University, Howard University, Catholic University of America, University of Maryland – Baltimore, and Virginia Commonwealth University may apply for a social work internship.

How to Apply

There are 10 internships, that come with a stipend, available each academic year. These positions are primarily clinical in nature, and at times, have macro-focused elements within the placement.

All referrals to the program must be made through a university liaison. Each educational institution liaison submits the student’s application. The liaison is required to submit a resume that is screened to determine if the VA Medical Center is suitable to meet the student’s learning goals and a best fit for the agency. Screened applicants will interview with the Graduate Education Coordination Team. Interns selected will then be matched with a proposed direct supervisor or field instructor.

Benefits Available Through Internships

During their placement at the VAMC, social work interns have the opportunity to listen to lectures and participate in a variety of training sessions to bolster their professional knowledge and skill-base.

Interns are not eligible for the Federal Employee Retirement System. However, if an intern later becomes a federal employee, time spent in internship status can be credited toward retirement. The VA is interested in offering jobs to former interns, and they are encouraged to apply for federal employment, which would begin after completion of degree requirements. Learn more more about possible job opportunities with VA

Learn more about education and training opportunities available to interns

For More Information Contact:

Christopher Cassleman, LICSW -

Chelsea Burrows, LICSW -

Mona Wilson, LCSW, LICSW -