I Feel Robbed: Students’ Responses to Traumatic Disruptions of Internship Placements Secondary to COVID-19
Keywords:COVID-19, higher education, mental health, internships, mixed methods
Internship placements were disrupted by COVID-19, resulting in an abrupt transition from in-person to remote work. In response, academic institutions developed virtual assignments to assist students in obtaining required internship hours. This study examined the influence of COVID-19 on social work students enrolled in institutions of higher education participating in field internships. A mixed-methods exploratory study was utilized to understand the experience and impact of the pandemic on students’ emotional, physical, and mental well-being. The majority of students reported negative impacts on their mental health. Students also reported being denied the opportunity for professional closure within internship placements, specifically with supervisors, staff, and clients. The results identify mental health and coping skills, along with professional preparedness as common themes. The findings regarding the impact on mental health align with national data collected by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).