FORT POLK, La –
Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital’s social work intern left a big impression on patients and hospital staff at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana. Abigail Lust, military spouse, recently completed her clinical internship in the BJACH Behavioral Health department and will graduate with her masters of social work in August from Campbellsville University, Campbellsville, Kentucky.
During her two year pursuit of this master’s program, Lust completed 900 total practicum hours with 462 clinical hours at BJACH.
Through networking and a series of coincidences, she met Chuck Satterfield, a licensed clinical social worker at BJACH who was willing to serve as her preceptor and she began the process in October 2021 to begin her unpaid internship.
Satterfield said he was impressed by Lust’s energy and sincere desire to help people.
“She asked me about being her preceptor and I knew immediately that she was going to do a great job,” he said. “Abigail has an unbridled passion to serve others. Supervising an intern allowed me to make an investment in someone’s future as a clinician and as a social worker. As her field supervisor I know I have helped someone take the next step towards their dream and I gained a wonderful friend.”
Satterfield said it was an honor to work with Lust.
“Abigail is a wonderful young lady,” he said “I honestly believe she’s a better social worker than I am. I count myself blessed to have been her field supervisor.”
Michaelia McClure, health system specialist (service agreement manager) for resource management division at BJACH, said she recommends students plan ahead if they are interested in an unpaid internship. It can be a lengthy process.
“Students wanting to do their internship at BJACH should reach out to me to initiate a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with their school,” she said “I ask them to send me an email with a copy of practicum requirements, their student handbook and to sign and fill out an internal form. Once I receive all required paperwork, I will start to a draft a MOA with their school if we don’t already have one on file. I will work with the school and their legal team to create and finalize a MOA that all parties agree upon. Once completed I collect signatures from our director and the school.”
McClure said neither she nor her department place interns.
“Once we have a completed agreement, we hand off students to our hospital education team for placement based on clinical and departmental abilities to accommodate,” she said.
Lust said, in her case, she already found her supervisor before she started the MOA process.
“In my case, I was able to fill out my student practicum agreement and solidify the supervisor/intern relationship,” she said. “For me the process took about three months total to finalize all of the paperwork, background checks and regulatory requirements between the hospital and my university before I was able to start my internship.”
Maj. Markeisha Hubbard, chief of hospital education and staff development for BJACH said having interns is mutually beneficial for students and BJACH.
“As a clinical instructor and educator, I understand the importance of obtaining hands-on experience through internships,” she said. “Students are able to apply the knowledge they’ve obtained in school to the real world. This helps students discover the pros and cons of their chosen career path.”
Hubbard said BJACH welcomes interns because they can potentially impact the job market.
“We hope that the interns seek job opportunities within our organization after graduation,” she said. “After completion of their internship, students can request letters of recommendation for future positions with us, other military treatment facilities or in the private sector.”
Lust said the experience was rewarding.
“I have been blessed with both of my internships. The experience was so different in each circumstance,” she said. “My clinical internship at BJACH focused in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders, risk and analysis, group work and learning more about specific behavioral health and psychological screenings. This was a very different knowledge base than my previous internship where I worked with kids in foster care.”
Lust said, in addition to all of the hands on social work training and education she gained during her internship at BJACH, she also learned a lot about working for the Army and assisted on three separate public affairs projects.
“My supervisor and team at BJACH supported me not only during the clinical rotations, but they also encouraged me to pursue other ideas and initiatives,” she said. “I was able to participate in the Social Work Awareness Month video, I spearheaded the first pinwheel planting for child abuse prevention month at BJACH and I wrote, edited and narrated the script for a first person behavioral health video that was created for suicide prevention month.”
Lynne Chevalier-Ray, licensed independent clinical social worker and chief of the multi-disciplinary clinic for the BJACH behavioral health department, said most social workers are eager to share their experience to help grow and mentor the next generation entering the field.
“I believe that interns, particularly ones like Abigail, who don’t hesitate to jump right in, help bring us back to our roots,” she said. “Having her on the team challenged us to think more rather than be on automatic pilot. I hope she gained the experience and confidence necessarily to work independently. This was her opportunity to put what she’s learned in the classroom to practical use.”
Chevalier-Ray said after graduation Lust will still have to go through the process for licensure.
Lust has undergraduate degrees in psychology and child and adolescent development, and ultimately, wants to become a psychiatrist.
“I still want to go to medical school but with small children at home that isn’t something I can pursue now,” she said. “With a masters in social work, I knew I could do the classroom work online. I also learned during my own struggles with postpartum depression that social workers can be therapists. When my kids are older, I’m planning to go to medical school for psychiatry.”
Lust said the next step for her is to sit before the licensing board.
“I would encourage the next behavioral health intern at BJACH to make the most of it,” she said. “Learn about and from as many different people as you can while you’re there. I was able to work with different providers in all of the different clinics, it was a very well-rounded experience.”
As a military spouse, and after working with the Army at BJACH, Lust is considering the Army Social Work Internship Program (SWIP).
According to the Army Recruiting Command’s official website, the SWIP is a 26-month program conducted at a military treatment facility. It is an educational bridge between the master’s program Army Medicine and independent social work practice. The SWIP exposes unlicensed active duty social workers to key areas of practice within the social work career field, and allows for the advanced application of theory to practice in a supervised setting. If selected, Lust would serve two and half years on active duty upon completion of the program.
Lust said, in addition to the experience and knowledge gained at BJACH, she worked with the installation risk manager to learn more about her role.
“I got to work on the prevention side of things at the Army Substance Abuse program with risk management where I got to participate in unit risk analysis,” she said. “I got to work with the behavioral health technicians and train them how to do intakes. I did so much, and I really must thank my supervisor and the team for giving me such a wonderful experience.”
Lust said she feels good knowing she made an impact.
“Often interns complain that they are relegated to filing and office work,” she said. “At BJACH, I got to do psychoeducation, grounding exercises, and psychosocial assessments with real patients, with real problems. It was really wonderful to see what I’m good at, and what I’m not good at, and I don’t think everyone gets to do that during their internship.”
Editor’s note: Students interested in an internship can reach out to
Michaelia McClure via email at email@example.com.
To see videos featuring Abigail Lust visit: