Edition Focus: Navigating the Internship Process

What are some pros and cons of an internship in public service?

What may be included in a conceptualization of a public service internship?

By Kellye S. Carver

Pro: "Being able to provide care to vulnerable and underserved populations outweighs the cons by a long shot."
Con: "On occasion, working within a large governmental bureaucracy or even a smaller local agency can be challenging and even frustrating. The rules are many and staff and resources can be quite limited."

Kim Embleton Dixon, PhD, MBA
Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center

Pro: "There's a real need for bright, talented people who can help ameliorate suffering among marginalized populations, the pay is pretty competitive, and the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary environment."
Con: "The complex institutional environment;a health care delivery problems being politicized."

Myra Elder, PhD
James H. Quillen VAMC

Pro: "Working with a highly diverse patient population, making an impact by helping historically underserved populations, and gaining experience with treating patients with a wide variety of diagnoses. Also, our interns all get significant experience with working in multidisciplinary health care teams."
Con: "Patients tend to have high levels of distress and impairment in multiple areas of their lives (e.g., mental health, physical health, substance use disorders, and significant psychosocial stressors). This can make progress somewhat slower than interns are used to from past training experiences."

Daniel Hurley, PhD, LP
Hennepin County Medical Center Adult Psychiatry Clinic

Pro: "Knowing you are helping make the world a better place."
Con: "Working within a giant system that is not always responsive or sensible."

Sarah E. Turley, PhD
Salt Lake City VA