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My Interesting Internship

Like many students, I am required to complete an internship in order to graduate; I completed mine this summer. What’s unique about Therapeutic Recreation, which is my major, is that I have to complete a minimum of 15 weeks/40 hours a week (so a total of 600 hours) for my internship.


What is Therapeutic Recreation/Recreation Therapy?:A systematic process that uses recreation interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being. The systematic process is the job of the recreation therapist.” – WSU RTTR Website


Confusing? Too wordy of a definition? Keep reading to find out more!


(Photo Credit: Redbubble)


I completed my internship at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, which out of the three that I applied for, was my last choice. I accepted the offer for the internship with excitement but also with a little hesitance ,because I was not sure if I was going to enjoy it and get the experience that I thought I wanted.


But I was wrong.


I LOVED my internshipfrom my supervisor, to the patients, to the community outings, to my coworkers, and everything in between. I learned so much and gained valuable hands-on experience that I honestly believe will prepare me for wherever my future takes me, whenever that will be.


Here are the most important lessons that I learned (and an embarrassing, but entertaining story to go with them):


1.  If you don’t want to do, do it anyways.

There were times throughout my internship when I didn’t want to complete a task because I did not feel prepared, was not comfortable, etc. For example, my supervisor said that I was going to lead an assessment for a patient and I can almost picture what the deer-in-the-headlights look on my face looked like when she told me. I was terrified, to say the least. I remember stumbling over my words, looking constantly at the assessment sheet in front of me, and I can guarantee that my face was beet red during the entire time I was assessing the patient. But once the assessment was done, I felt a wave of relief.


Doing something for the first time is always scary, but if you just do it (and do your best at it), it can only go up from there! Plus, it always helps to have a supportive supervisor that is there to help fill in the awkward space!



2.  How to (gracefully) recover from an embarrassing moment

Anyone who knows me knows that I am clumsy; I’m always dropping something and just plain uncoordinated, especially at the “best of times.” I was conducting another assessment, and I was teetering on the front two legs of a four-legged chair. The assessment was going fairly well in my opinion, but the next thing I knew, the chair went out from under me and I was on the ground. Yes, I fell off a chair in front of a patient and my supervisor. Another deer-in-the-headlight (I’m sure of) and dumbfounded look was on my face when I realized what had happened.


Lesson here? Take a moment to acknowledge what happened (laugh at yourself if you are comfortable with that) and get back to the task at hand because guess whatyou are an adult in the real world and need to do your job (This moment described is not the only embarrassing moment that I had, but it was definitely the most memorable)!



3.  Take in everything and ask about anything.

I really did not take advantage of this until the second half of my internship. I was too nervous and a tad bit overwhelmed in the beginning; here were my biggest challenges: being in a new, confusing, and large place (I can’t even begin to count the number of times I got lost because I thought I found a shortcut in the facility), realizing that this is what I am going to do for the rest of my life (but that means that I must really wanna do it if I ended up loving it anyways, right?), learning how to apply my classroom skills and knowledge to the real world (and realizing how much I definitely did NOT know), and getting used to the Cities’ traffic and rush hours (coming from my hometown, this was a wake-up call that I’m so glad I had).


Take the time to absorb everything, but also start to ask questions if you have them because it’s better to know in the beginning than towards the end. I learned so many different medical terms, so thank goodness that my mom is a nurse because I was able to ask her about them when I got home at the end of the day. I learned more about medical conditions, procedures, treatments, and other things that I never thought (or wanted to) learn about until my internship.


Just remember that your supervisor decided to have you as their intern because they saw potential in you and wanted to make sure that you are prepared for when you get your first “real job”. And they are super knowledgeable about their job, so take advantage of it when you can!



Why I love my major and future career even more:

1.  Showing others that they can still do things: It seemed like when talking to patients who have a disability and/or injury, they thought that they could no longer participate in activities that they used to be active in. Sometimes that is true, but more often than not, there is adaptive equipment that can be used to assist a person with transfers, holding onto a piece of equipment, and so on.


One moment that sticks out to me was when we took one of the patients kayaking, and it was something that the person was active in before and had not had the opportunity to do in a while. There was so much work and coordination that was put into the outing (thank goodness for my supervisor because she got everything figured out!), and I thought it was going to be just alright. Some parts of the outing were a little bumpy, but overall, the outing went well. It was nice to see and hear that the patient was really appreciative of us taking them out, and hearing that made the work we had put into it worth it.


2.  Trikes are cool: With the population I was with, there were a lot of tricycles and handcycles that were assessed, trailed, and so on. That is just one of the adaptive sports that someone can participate in; there are SO MANY more that a person can participate in, despite their ability. Here are just a few that I was able to observe and even participate in: sailing (which I was terrified to do in the beginning, but ended up actually kind of loving it), golf, fly-fishing, air guns, tennis, and kayaking.



3.  It’s never boring: Between team rounds, inpatient assessments, trials for trikes, documenting, staff meetings, people constantly at the office door, taking people on community outings (whether that was to the Twins game, MOA, Cabelas… another never ending list!) and everything else, it was never boring. I loved being busy because it made the days go by quickly, which was a good and bad thing.



Those are just some of the many highlights of my internship. I was honestly so surprised by how much I loved working with the population and what I did there. I thought I knew what I wanted to do (working with kids in a children’s hospital, which I still want to do), but now I am more open to trying different populations and settings, which is terrifying and exciting at the same time.

Meet Linsey Taylor, one of the campus correspondents for the Winona State Her Campus chapter. Linsey is a senior majoring in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in psychology and hopes to become a child life specialist with her degree. In her free time, Linsey enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and hanging out with friends and family.
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