Edition Focus: Navigating the Internship Process

What factors should applicants consider when applying to a VA or other public service-related internship?

Keep unique considerations of public service internships in mind as you weigh the ramifications of your choices.

By Kellye S. Carver

“Twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to take a different path and intern at a prestigious university medical school. At that time, I chose to do an internship in the VA system (the Lexington, Kentucky, VAMC). My experiences there solidified my desire for a career in public service, and I have never regretted it — not even now, with all the negative national press about the VA. I believe I have the best of both worlds. I am able to work with an underserved population (Appalachian veterans, most of whom live in poverty) and I am able to have a decent standard of living for myself and my family. My work is meaningful and challenging, and my patients are very appreciative of any efforts on their behalf.... [There’s] a real sense of mission in serving veterans (or other public health populations); all employees (including interns) are subject to a higher level of scrutiny, because we are paid with taxpayer money (seen the national news lately?) [There’s also] the need to learn to operate within a complex institutional environment.”

Myra Elder, PhD
Training Director
James H. Quillen VAMC