Religious Studies Internships

A woman in a blue t-shirt stands in front of a sign inlayed in brick that says Streets Ministries
A woman in a blue t-shirt stands in front of a sign inlayed in brick that says Streets Ministries

Rhodes/Methodist Hospital Supervised Clinical Internship

For almost 40 years, Rhodes College has partnered with Methodist Healthcare to offer the Hospital Internship course. This course (RELS 461) is designed to assist students in experiential learning about “the patient experience” and interpersonal pre-professional relationships. Each year, during the Spring Semester, a group of students works with a Chaplain at the Methodist North Hospital to learn the basic skills of human interaction with patients and family members. Every Tuesday evening the Interns’ group meets on campus in a seminar setting for didactic sessions, case presentations, and reflection on our experiences in the hospital. After receiving appropriate training, Interns are assigned to visit patients for 3 hours per week in a specific clinical area of the hospital. Interns learn from close chaplain supervision, and from the group’s conversations in the Tuesday evening class sessions, but the primary learning is in patient’s rooms, in the encounters with patients and family members. Interns work alongside Methodist nurses, therapists, and technicians. Where possible, the program is tailored to the individual learning interests of students.

Due to the “close supervision” component of the course, the maximum enrollment is limited to 6 students. Due to the “peer group learning” component of the course, the required minimum enrollment is 3 students.

Each year, during the Fall Semester, informational sessions are offered to help students discern whether one of the College’s Internships might be a good “fit” for the student’s interests and gifts. The dates, times, and places for these sessions will be announced early in the Fall Semester.

An interview with the Instructor is required before a student may register for the Hospital Internship course. The prospective student is encouraged to attend the informational session, and then to contact the Instructor to schedule an interview.

Interested students may contact the Department of Religious Studies (x3664) to begin the process of gathering general information about the Hospital Internship. 

Students Reflect on the Hospital Internship

Natey Kinzounza '17 
If you're wanting a semester of simultaneous service and self-growth, the Methodist Hospital Chaplaincy Internship must be a part of your Rhodes experience. The greatest gift this internship brought me was the realization that we live a most uncertain life. Allow yourself to be stretched, to listen, to be still. Every day is a good day, simply because we are of sound body and sound mind. This internship teaches just that!

Andy Nguyen '18
The Rhodes-Methodist Hospital Chaplaincy is an internship experience that I would recommend to anyone—not only to those persons who are aspiring to work in the medical field. Yes, the internship did give me exposure to the clinical setting; however, it more importantly gave me exposure to the unique lives of patients. Visiting patients was not an easy task. Indeed, it is difficult to carry conversations with people you do not even know. It is even more difficult to communicate with and relate to those who are facing illness. Ultimately, the internship gave me a firsthand glimpse of suffering, grief, pain, and loss. Through this internship, I learned that helping someone does not require too much. Sometimes, help can simply consist of being present. If you are looking for an internship experience that will challenge the way you see the world, others, and yourself, I highly recommend taking this class.

Christine Dietz ’02
Throughout the semester I found myself involved in an experience that was unlike anything else I have ever been involved with here at Rhodes. It was a chance to learn about others as well as myself in a way that the typically classroom experience does not provide for. The Internship through the Chaplain’s office at Methodist was an exploration into healthcare as well as personal development. Over the course of the semester, I visited with Patients in the hospital, learning about their experiences of life, pain, happiness, and even at times religion. Not only did I learn more about the Patients I was visiting, but with each experience, I learned something new about myself. This internship showed me that sometimes it is O.K. to not have the answer and that sometimes the only thing that we want to hear is that we don’t always know. Knowing is not what is important, but feeling is essential to understanding. Whether my conversation was spoken or sitting in silence, there was an understanding and acceptance that existed. This class showed me more about myself than I was always ready to see, but it was a good thing. I learned about caring from many different perspectives and now have an application to my experience.

Jeremy Murdock ’02
What can I say about my experience with the Internship? It challenged me. I signed up for it because a friend of mine had taken the class a year before, and it looked interesting. Besides, I wanted to be a doctor, and this would be some good hospital experience. I thought that I would talk to patients and observe the hospital environment, but this is only partly true. I quickly learned that every patient I talked to, every room I entered was a different experience. I listened to some patients who would cry out their frustration with disease, and I listened to others just complain about the food. I listened to patients tell me their difficulties about their hospital stay and family life, and I also listened to patients tell me about their progress and accomplishment. I did not gain a clinical experience; I gained personal, patient, human experience. This internship
will not help me treat a disease, but it will help me treat a patient. I was challenged by the other side of the hospital, the living side. I was challenged to learn disease may be typical, but patients are unique, and each patient has a unique story, experience, and context to his life.

Stuart Lamkin ’01
Interning as a chaplain for a semester was one of the biggest learning experiences I had in all my years at Rhodes. I wanted to take an internship my last semester, and the Chaplain Internship offered through the Religious Studies department was the only one I considered. Since I planned to go into ministry after college, I knew it would be a good experience for me, and hoped it wouldn’t be too hard. Well, it turned out to be a great experience for me and it was extremely hard. It wasn’t hard because of the work load, but because it was so emotionally challenging. It’s not easy to spend a few hours each week at a hospital talking to hurting people. Sometimes you enjoy it, but sometimes you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. If you want an internship that will challenge you and force you to learn about yourself as you learn how to help others, then this is the one to take. It’ll be a bumpy ride, but you’ll come out stronger in the end.