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Psych intern explores options

October 18, 2012

 

Psychology intern Nicholas Wallace applies the lessons he has learned from his internships in the classroom. - Photo by Jessica Van Alstyne

MELISSA GRAJEK
Staff Reporter

 

This is the fifth in a five-part series on the unique experience of Tech students who participated in summer internships. Each of the students left Ruston to get firsthand experience in their respective fields.

 

In most cases, experience as an intern is recommended and at times required by employers before a graduate may be considered for employment, but for psychology majors, an internship is less of a suggestion and more of a requirement.

 

Unlike some other majors offered at Tech that encourage internships or offer them as an alternative to a class, psychology mandates a completion of around 3,000 internship hours before a student may graduate with a master’s degree.

 

“Students are required to complete a practicum as part of their final year,” said Latoya Pierce, a psychology professor.

 

A practicum is a student’s first 100 hours of fieldwork at a graduate level, Pierce explained.

 

Nicholas Wallace, a graduate student in general counseling, is working on his final hours of interning before graduation this fall.

 

“We are required to complete each internship in the time frame of one quarter,” Wallace said.

 

He said internships are completed off campus, while a weekly meeting with fellow students and professors on campus every Wednesday evening reviews individual progress.

 

Students are allowed to pick their internship location from a general list provided, Wallace said.

 

“You may work under pretty much anyone who is a licensed professional counselor,” he said.

 

Since thousands of interning hours are needed, students are encouraged to work in a variety of locations.

 

“I have completed 100 hours of practicum at Central Elementary in Webster Parish, and 300 hours of internship at Inspirations of Ruston, an intensive outpatient program,” Wallace said.

 

He said he is currently finishing up his last internship locally in Ruston at Allegiance Health Center, an acute psychiatric unit that serves the geriatric population.

 

Although it is said that a majority of students change their major before graduation, Wallace said he always knew he wanted to help people, and after graduation he hopes to work at an inpatient psychiatric hospital where he can do just that.

 

“I chose Allegiance Health Center because I wanted to gain the experience of working with an inpatient setting as to become greater familiarized with acute care,” he said.

 

Unlike critical care, acute care concentrates more on short term care but still focuses on serious conditions like post surgery care and recovery.

 

Wallace said his internships allowed him to connect the dots between what is taught in class to lessons learned through hands on experience.

 

“In this program, you gain an abundance of knowledge throughout the way,” he said. “Professors are adamant about students leaving Tech armed with the tools needed to do the job.”

 

Ida Chauvin, a professor and overseer of the psychology internship program, said the department has one of the broadest internship programs, allowing students a well-rounded experience within their field of study.

 

As the professor of an internship class, Chauvin oversees and monitors the progress of interning students, helping them with the transition from the classroom taught concepts to in-person experiences.

 

“I will never forget how actively concerned my supervisors have been that I learn as much as possible during my internship experiences,” Wallace said.

 

As far as other students and even other majors are concerned, Wallace maintains a confidence in internships as a chance to gain experience.

 

“I would recommend students take any and every opportunity to actively seek out learning opportunities such as an internship,” Wallace said.

 

In a field of study where one may never have enough experience, internships provide a safe environment for students to gain experience in everything from the medical aspect to the business side of the industry.

 

“Interning has taught me the value of hard work,” Wallace said. “Undoubtedly, knowing the value of hard work will be beneficial in helping me work hard to help others work hard to help themselves.”

 

Email comments to mag043@latech.edu.

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