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National Intern Day: Spotlight on James Sandlin

James Sandlin, Recovery Support Professional
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Today is National Intern Day, and we’re so excited to shine the spotlight on some wonderful interns who have contributed their time and talent to Gaudenzia through our Internship Program.

First up is Recovery Support Professional, James Sandlin.

Even though James had just been hired at Gaudenzia, he entered our internship program to satisfy academic requirements for his studies toward an associate degree in Human Services, and to supplement his work experience. James credits his internship experience with affording him the opportunity to connect with various facilities and discuss his goals to advance in employment at Gaudenzia — a journey that paid off.

Today, James is a Recovery Support Professional at Gaudenzia’s Integrity House, located in York County, PA. In this role, he directly helps our clients reach and sustain recovery from substance use and co-occurring disorders.

Here’s how he describes his day-to day responsibilities:

“My current role at Integrity House is to provide/encourage recovery lifestyles to the clients we serve. This includes introducing or continuing education on current pathways to recovery. I am also responsible for helping foster a safe environment for all our clients. Part of my job is to oversee the daily operations of the client schedule and to help build life skills such as time management, organization, and social skills.”

We’re so grateful to James for taking the time to talk to us about his internship experience at Gaudenzia. We’re also thrilled to have our behavioral health internship program nominated for WayUp’s Top 100 Best Internship Programs of 2022. Please take a moment to vote for Gaudenzia here. Participants can vote until midnight tonight (July 28th).

Keep reading to learn more about James and his internship experience with our organization.

How Did You Hear About Gaudenzia’s Behavioral Health Internship Program?

I had previously worked at Gaudenzia and knew that Autherine Shaw was providing this supervision over a student in the semester prior. I came to talk to her about supervising my internship and she agreed.  We developed our internship education plan but by the time the internship started, I was introduced to Rayn Phillips, who became my internship supervisor. It was really like having two supervisors, and both with great, yet different experiences that I was able to learn from. I still have contact with Rayn. I know that I can count on them for sound advice and to understand different information.

How Did Gaudenzia’s Behavioral Health Internship Program Enhance Your Education?

The internship program provided on-the-job training that showed me what to expect when working in the substance use disorder treatment field. It gave me a background look on the “why’s” and “how’s” of treatment, and what all goes into providing adequate treatment, from one single individual to treatment for a facility at capacity.

What Were Your Main Responsibilities During Your Behavioral Health Internship?

My responsibilities included shadowing the clinicians at Integrity House and getting to know the roles of the staff. I spent a lot of time with the intake coordinator learning about the intake process, and I was tasked with reading manuals on policy and procedures.

As Part of Your End-of-Semester Project, You Put Together a Recovery House Resource Guide. Could You Share More About This Project?

The idea came to me after talking with the clinicians as well as the clients. I learned there was some anxiety when it came to discussing discharge plans. After discussing with the staff, Courtney — the intake coordinator/counselor — mentioned that she had a similar resource at a facility she had previously worked at. I asked if this would be something they could see themselves using and discussed with Rayn and Autherine if this would be suitable to put together for my semester project, and they both agreed.

My goal was to make this a tangible piece of conversation for the counselor and client when it came to discussing discharge plans. Having the information easily accessible would engage the client and counselor in the necessary discussion for the steps to follow treatment with Integrity House. Having a resource with multiple recovery house options located in once place avoids the need to need to Google or call for general questions. It also gives the practitioner content for encouraging the next step and provides the opportunity for the client to take the reins and become an active participant in their treatment process and decisions. The clinicians and Certified Recovery Specialist now all have copies of the resource guide and have been able to utilize it.

How Did Gaudenzia’s Behavioral Internship Program Help Prepare You for a Role in the Field?

Interning with Gaudenzia prepared me to help sometimes marginalized individuals. The diversity and multitude of cultural backgrounds of the clients we serve has shed light on struggles that different individuals face, and how to address different needs. It has provided me connections with colleagues to go to who have experience working with clients from different backgrounds, as well as with clients who may not be engaging in treatment at their full potential.

What Was Your Proudest Accomplishment During Your Behavioral Health Internship?

My proudest accomplishment during my internship was hearing the positive feedback of coworkers as well as from Rayn Phillips, who supervised my internship. Hearing that I had good ideas, and even with the Recovery House Resource guide, knowing that it was a practical and applicable resource for the counselors to use and thank me for making. There were interviews that I was a part of with clients, and they thanked me for my input. There is no greater reward than hearing and seeing that you can make a difference in someone’s life. A paycheck doesn’t hold enough zeros to compete with that.

You Received the Michael B. Harle Professional Development Scholarship that Gaudenzia Offers its Team Members. Could You Speak to How This Scholarship is Helping You Attain Your Educational Goals?

I am a very proud recipient of the Michael B. Harle Professional Development Scholarship. It really couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. After completing my associates degree, I looked at what I owe in loans and knew I had to figure something else out. I think that same week I saw an email introducing the scholarship, so it reduced some of the pressure I was feeling from the financial burdens of student loans. It’s helping me attain my educational goals monetarily, but it also made me feel like someone believed in me — that part, more than anything. Someone read my words and saw something in me.

What Advice Would You Give Interns Looking to Get the Most Out of Their Experience?

Devote yourself to the internship as much as possible because those guiding you are going out of their way to devote themselves to you. Ask all the questions, even if you feel like the question doesn’t make sense. This is your opportunity to learn all you can. The professionals — all those I’ve encountered in my time at Gaudenzia — truly care about the field, the clients they serve, the impact they make, and Gaudenzia’s purpose.

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