“Lord, I am still trying to find my area of focus. I know I want to work with the homeless and at risk population, but what should I be doing? This quarter of my practicum I’ve been wrangled into learning about eligibility and helping clients apply for medical benefits. Lord, I am giving a presentation on eligibility to the staff this week. I hope they hear my passion, that I sound knowledgeable and articulate, and that they see the person you are molding me into. Most important, I ask that you speak through me.” (God’s wisdom proverbs 12:1, 15).”
Reading this I remember that quarter being one of the most frustrating quarters of my graduate school days. It is damn near impossible to sign someone up for benefits if they do not have proof of address or social security numbers. I found many young adults were hesitant to provide the latter. They did not wish to be found by a parental figure. Many young people do not just decide to become homeless, these individuals are often running away from homes filled with poverty, substance abuse, incest, or non-accepting parents (who will not accept their child is queer or transgender).
I also found that other clients simply lacked follow through. I am a firm believer that you have to meet a client where they’re at. You can’t work harder than your client. This is their life, and you can only provide guidance. Forgetting this rule leads to severe burnout. With so much frustration, I have no clue how I passed that quarter. I went through my notes and found my old evaluation that reads “Student continues to be very motivated and enthusiastic about their clinical learning experience, which is amazing (I am sure it was amazing during graduate school, as I worked full-time, had a full course load, and had a part-time practicum. I am just exhausted thinking about that period in my life). Student has transitioned a lot this quarter moving from shadowing to providing eligibility information and participating in patient visits (along with medical providers). Student has moved into shadowing our co-occurring clinical team for direct practice. Student has become a part of our integrated healthcare team and is continuing to create relationships with our partners and other team members. I know at times it has been a challenge to work with some of our team member, but student is showing patience and promise.”
Re- reading that assessment of my work, I smile as I know I gave a 200%. I put myself in the learning trenches and did the work, asked countless questions, and gave my feedback (some staff may find interns a pain, but this is your life. I advise you to respectably fight for what you know to be right. A fresh voice and eyes have never made a situation worse, and you are more than likely occurring student loan debt for this – now how about that for a real life moment.)
Bonus tip- I will also say when it comes to giving a presentation, my top advice is to breathe, be prepared, and make eye contact. For a full list of how to give a kick ass presentation, check out the business insider.