Since Spectrum Health Systems’ internship program was founded nearly a decade ago, it has continued to grow and expand its relationships with local Massachusetts colleges and universities while giving students incredibly valuable hands-on experience to prepare for careers in the clinical field. We talked with the director of the program to give you an inside look.
When Lynn LeBlanc-Marrone, Executive Director of Inpatient & Outpatient Clinical Services, joined Spectrum in 2011, she wanted to expand Spectrum’s internship capabilities to bring added value both to the local community and to Spectrum’s operations. Spectrum has had longstanding relationships with the schools around its treatment centers, particularly in the Worcester, Mass. area, such as Assumption University and Regis College.
“I was teaching at Assumption as well at the time,” said Lynn, “so it was an easy match in Worcester, and the program has just really grown since then.”
Students in master’s programs for counseling, psychology or a related area will typically need field experience to complete their degrees. Spectrum, in turn, is always looking for bright and qualified candidates to join their team and has actually hired a number of former interns – such as Lisa Blanchard, now the Vice President of Clinical Services.
“They know what to expect of the position, and we know the quality of their work so it’s a win/win,” Lynn explains. “We also feel strongly about giving back to the field and helping train individuals entering the profession allows us to do that.”
How it Works: Adapting to the Pandemic
As COVID-19 began to take hold in March, we were able to quickly pivot and adapt operations across the board, switching to telehealth and virtual options for outpatient treatment and imposing stringent health and safety protocols for inpatient programs. We typically offer a variety of inpatient and outpatient internship options, and while the inpatient option is unfortunately on hold for the time being, the outpatient option has continued and the interns for the spring semester were able to finish out the program. In fact, interest in the outpatient internship is stronger than it has ever been.
“Other programs just aren’t taking folks on,” Lynn explains, “and students are still desperately trying to find ways to get this field experience. Spectrum, meanwhile, has already onboarded three new interns for the summer.”
Outpatient interns are able to remain on-site, as clients are meeting with counselors and clinicians remotely, making it simpler for the on-site staff to follow health and safety protocols, including social distancing. After going through a virtual orientation, students shadow sessions and groups conducted online or over the telephone. They still gain the important aspects of the learning experience, which for first year master’s students involves note-taking, case management and getting to know the field, and for second year students conducting individual counseling sessions themselves.
Spectrum internships give students a breadth of knowledge in topics that aren’t always discussed in the classroom. They learn from staff with strong skills in dealing with trauma, the LGBTQ+ community, and other specialized areas of substance use and mental health treatment. With our expansive offerings and range of expertise, we make sure individuals are receiving the most quality knowledge base for their future careers.
Join the Team
No one teaches you how to adapt to a pandemic in a classroom, but we were set up to respond to the current situation while keeping students on board. “We’re getting creative in expanding what we can do to mimic the counseling experience and what students can learn without seeing clients face to face,” says Lynn. “It’s never been a more challenging time to be a student in this field, but we’re making it work in the current environment.”
If you’re interested in applying for an internship with Spectrum, please contact our National Recruiter, Erica Schulman at 774-670-4525 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Positions go fast, so don’t wait to get started!