Reflections of a Phoenix Society Intern
Last year, the Phoenix UBelong Young Adult program created an internship opportunity intended to provide professional development in the area of therapeutic programming. This opportunity was open to all students and young professionals seeking to broaden their skills in the area of service to burn survivors and family members. Out of dozens of applications, Taylor Sherwood was the applicant chosen for this unique and impactful experience.
Phoenix Society's 2016 Intern, Taylor Sherwood, Talks About the Impacts of His Experience
Currently, I am a burn technician and SOAR coordinator at the University of Colorado Hospital Burn Center. I was chosen as the first Young Adult Support Program Internship with the Phoenix Society. This 20+ week internship has not only been a great learning opportunity, but has also provided me a larger and diverse skill set to better support the young adult burn population in my burn center.
The Young Adult Support Program Internship has provided me with a great skill set and better understanding of the support needs of young adult burn survivors. Over the course of this internship, each week you are guided through a new topic to learn and reflect on. The topics range from an introduction to burn injuries (demographics, treatment, and scarring.), PTSD, Programming, and family impacts of a burn injury. Each week you learn something new about the perspectives and experiences of burn survivors and how to provide the best support services for the young adults demographic.
What knowledge area(s) and specific insights did you gain that you had not had previous exposure to?
The knowledge area I had no previous exposure to was therapeutic programming. I had no idea the amount of expertise and work that goes into the therapeutic programming at event like Phoenix World Burn Congress and the local burn camps. After completing my internship I have only began to scratch the surface on the topic of therapeutic programming but I now have skills set to help with our new adult camp our burn center is starting this April.
What I loved most about this internship were the interactions I was able to have with individuals from the Phoenix Society. It was so great to be able to talk with each person from different areas like Pam Peterson, Program Director Amy Clark from Strategic Planning was my favorite person to talk with-- I think we spent over an hour talking about organizational growth and development, what an awesome experience and such wonderful networking!-- and countless others. It was even greater to be able to meet them in person at the PWBC.
One of my favorite parts of working as the intern for the young adults workshop was being able to work weekly with Jessica Irven and learning so much about programming from one of the most passionate burn programmers I have ever met! Along with working with Jess I was able to work monthly with the fantastic Young Adult Mentors (18-25 year old “lead participants” in Phoenix Young Adult Workshop) and Douglas Clapp who is the current Co-Facilitator of the workshop.
Prior to internship, Taylor was unsure of which direction to take his commitment to survivors and families:
I honestly was not sure what kind of expectation I had for the Internship. I certainly did not think we would cover so many topics and that I would truly get to explore each aspect of the Phoenix Society and support programming work.
By the time this internship ended I knew that I wanted to focus on working within the mental health aspect focusing on PTSD. I am currently working towards becoming a clinical psychologist and someday hope to be collaborating with the Phoenix Society with their Mental Health Team.
How has the Internship changed your professional practice?
This internship has impacted my daily professional practice in so many ways. The internship has made me think of ways I can better help/ease a burn survivors stay in the hospital and the difficult transition of going home and finding their new normal. Things like ensuring that the time we do a survivor’s daily dressing change is up to the survivor to give them back some control during their stay. During my Internship and time at Phoenix World Burn Congress I learned so many helpful “key phrases” I took back with me to help get those crucial conversations not only during our burn support groups but even with those one-on-one conversations during wound care or just in the patient’s room.
The Phoenix Society’s collaboration with Taylor to scaffold learning, networking, and practical experiences in therapeutic programing were a huge success for the individual and the organization! We are grateful to have built a strong relationship with Taylor as a professional in the field of burn support, and look forward to watching his continued career growth.
Applications for the 2017 Young Adult Support Programming Internship will be open until April 15, 2017.