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 VOL. 23, NO. 15FEBRUARY 20, 1998 


SW Intern Helps Hospital Children

Rebecca Benjamin

Enthusiasm is no substitute for experience. But together they make a winning combination.

  Rebecca Benjamin, a first-year student enrolled in the master’s program at Columbia’s School of Social Work’s Purchase site, is very enthusiastic about her two-semester internship at St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center for Children in Ossining, where she is benefiting from the experience her three-days-a-week assignment provides.

  In her role as social work intern, Benjamin not only helps children adjust to the vagaries of an illness or accident and to being separated from family, but also helps the family deal with the stresses involved with having a sick child. Some of the families she deals with may be further challenged by issues that have no direct bearing on their child’s illness, but which nevertheless may hinder the child’s ability to get well or eventually go home. These include poverty, lack of community support, substandard living conditions, abuse/neglect and domestic violence.

  When working directly with children who are too troubled or too shy to adequately express themselves, Benjamin has learned that being patient and taking time to build rapport and establish trust is vital to the communication process. This is time well spent when she achieves a breakthrough that enables a child to more openly explore feelings and express them in a positive and appropriate manner.

  “St. Mary’s experience with social work interns from Columbia has been extremely positive,” says Larry Dais, newly appointed chair of the board of directors at St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center for Children and assistant vice president and director of community affairs at Columbia. “The students’ enthusiasm and interest in their work has made a real contribution to St. Mary’s.”

  St. Mary’s (formerly the Friedman Rehabilitation Institute for Children) is a 44-bed inpatient pediatric facility that provides post-acute medical care and intensive rehabilitation to children, birth to age 16, who have special healthcare needs. The children are referred for medical treatment and rehabilitation and may receive care for weeks or months.






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