The social work internship program at CancerCare serves as a second-year field placement for advanced clinical students who have an interest in the field of oncology social work. It offers students an opportunity to expand their knowledge of the physical, emotional and spiritual impact of cancer on a person’s life. Interns can refine clinical skills pertinent to working with people who are living with cancer through individual counseling, education and support groups. Supervision and mentorship is provided by oncology social workers specializing in psychosocial oncology.

Educational Objectives

  • Becomes a place where social work literature and classroom instruction comes to life
  • Expands on fundamental clinical skills of active listening, engagement, assessment, relationship building and termination
  • Prepares student interns to address the psychosocial needs of individuals living with cancer
  • Broadens students’ knowledge and understanding of oncology social work
  • Introduces student interns to an array of clinical modalities and techniques
  • Complements the interns’ overall MSW program and clinical training
  • Develops cultural competency
  • Underscores the chronic and acute dimensions of a cancer diagnosis and its influence upon individuals, couples and families

Structure

The social work internship program is comprised of both experiential and didactic components. CancerCare student interns gain experience by staffing the national Hopeline and providing information, financial assistance, support and referrals to anyone affected by cancer—the person with cancer, the caregiver and the bereaved. Students offer counseling services to patients, caregivers and the bereaved to both local clients in the New York tri-state area or national clients, through phone or online modalities.

Counseling adheres to a short-term, strengths-based model that is supportive as well as goal-oriented. Interns are introduced to counseling techniques that embrace various models such as cognitive behavioral therapy related to the cancer experience, problem-solving, humanistic and existential psychotherapy. In addition to individual counseling, interns are afforded an opportunity to facilitate or co-facilitate one of several face to-face, telephone and online support groups.

Daily interactions with MSW staff, concurrent with individual supervision, enable students to sharpen their clinical skills and foster a deeper appreciation of the challenges inherent in living with a cancer diagnosis. Participation in monthly in-service seminars and case presentations in bi-weekly student group supervision provides a venue whereby interns can further develop clinical acuity and expertise in psychosocial oncology.

Topics scheduled for monthly in-service trainings range from CBT for Cancer Clinicians, Psychosocial Oncology, Mind-Body-Spirit to End of Life and Bereavement. Students also engage in monthly MSW staff meetings featuring guest speakers who present on an array of topics surrounding a cancer diagnosis, treatment and psychological/emotional impact. Additional workshops on meditation, nutrition and stress reduction demonstrate the significance of self-care and are available to student interns.

Outcomes

  • Heighten awareness of different types of cancer and treatments
  • Understand the multifaceted dimensions of cancer and develop skills in addressing the complexities inherent in a person’s diagnosis
  • Acquire specialized knowledge within the field of psychosocial oncology
  • Refine and enhance clinical practice skills
  • Gain cultural competency and sensitivity to diverse populations

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