An ordinary day does not exist in the inpatient psychiatric unit at the Children’s Hospital, otherwise known as Bader 5. Each one of the patients that come into this unit is very different and unique, and there isn’t a day where I don’t learn something new from these patients. Although all of them suffer from some sort of psychiatric and/or physical illness, it is incredible to see the optimism they bring, and to experience their growing motivation to get better.
Throughout the week, the diverse team of social workers, recreational therapists, occupational therapists, milieu staff and the interns work together to create a schedule for the patients to participate in a variety of therapeutic activities. These therapy groups are held with the purpose of providing patients with a way to develop coping skills for themselves. There is a diverse range of the types of groups Bader 5 offers, including music therapy, arts and crafts, sensory group, goals group, and more. As an intern, I am responsible for actively participating in these groups, at times leading the groups, and even thinking of new ideas for therapeutic groups. At Bader 5, you never really know what is going to happen next, a group might get cancelled or a staff member might not be able to lead the group. So another part of our job is to be able to think quickly on our feet. It is important to take advantage of any opportunity we have to provide the patients with a possible coping strategy in these groups. As interns, I have found that it can be much easier for the patients to relate to us because we are so much closer in age. Being able to listen and provide just another ear for them to talk to has become part of the daily routine as well.
Being on this unit, I found, can be very emotionally straining at times. The patients’ traumatic experiences have extremely tangible and visible consequences in their lives. Recently a 10-year old boy with a history of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, with PTSD (Post traumatic stress syndrome), with a behavioral disorder had been admitted. He has been extremely difficult to handle and has needed redirection multiple times throughout the day. Being able to fully care for him and keep catering to his needs has been difficult. However I think that what this internship teaches me is to continue to be patient and to realize that it’s not these kids fault that they struggle with these issues. Patients are admitted and discharged frequently, and it is heartbreaking to see exactly what these kids have experienced. There are a ton of cases of suicidal ideation, eating disorders, sexual or physical abuse and more. Although it can be discouraging to know that so many children have experienced such traumatic things, it is also a very hopeful experience as well. To know that I am part of what can be seen as a safe haven for these kids and their journey to overcome their struggles.