New opportunities, new experiences

Alli ThompsonAlli Thompson, from Wisconsin Rapids is currently a senior at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh majoring in Human Services, with a minor in History.  At the UW Oshkosh she juggles four classes while serving as president of the Human Service Organization along with being a member of  National Society of Leadership and Success and Golden Key International Honor Society. Follow her as she blogs about her final semester at UWO and her internship experience at Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

It is hard to believe that month has already gone by.  I have learned so much over this month and I am excited to share my experiences with you.  My first month at WMHI was a huge learning experience.  I am into the internship with no prior knowledge or experience with working with individuals with a mental illness.  I had to quickly learn some of the most common mental illnesses.  Coming into the internship with no prior knowledge was both a pro and a con.  It was a pro because everything was new and exciting and I was constantly asking questions and taking in the new information.  However, it was overwhelming and I felt apprehensive because I felt that I would not be useful.   I get to work with a wonderful staff who understood my lack of experience and allowed me to take baby steps.

I have had the opportunity to work with the occupational therapist (OT) staff up on the units and interact with face to face with patients.  During time spent with the OT staff I get to have casual conversations with the patients during the morning for coffee.  This is important interaction because this casual conversation is both therapeutic and helps the patients work on their daily communication skills. Every day we have exercise which can range from doing a work out video on the unit to going down to a recreational room where the patients can walk on treadmills, elliptical, bike or walk circles for 20 minutes.  Then they get to part take in an activity ranging for Wii to playing pool to playing cards.  Depending on the day we either have provide the patients with creativity, relaxation or a personal group activity.  It must be noted that patients have the choice to join the group activity or not.

I also spend majority of my time down in Volunteer Services where I continue to learn about the hospital and mental health itself.  I have been given the opportunity be a part of the Volunteer Recognition.  I have so far created a program and invites. I am learning a great deal of what it takes to plan a huge banquet.  I will say a lot more thought and time go into putting a large scale program such as this that most who are attending do not even think of.  I am currently helping put together three boards for the 140th anniversary of WMHI.  This project has been interesting because I have learned a great deal of NOW and THEN.  I am truly grateful for my experiences thus far at WMHI.  I look forward to March and planning more for Volunteer Recognition and continuing to learn about WMHI.

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