There are many stigmas about hospice care. However, as those who work in hospice come to find, hospice isn’t just about death and dying. It’s about making every moment count and cherishing what’s most important in life.

Masonic Village Hospice provides internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students studying social work. It’s an opportunity for these individuals to discover what hospice is truly about while gaining experience working in end-of-life care, which is a field unlike any other. For the past few months, staff have been hosting interns Nathan Vargas, Karen Flowers and Anna Umholtz (pictured above, left to right).

“While, at times, it’s an intense experience, I’ve been able to participate in the unique opportunity hospice workers have to provide love, care and support for patients and families at critical times,” Anna said.

Outside of social work, interns are able to shadow hospice nurses, chaplains and those in administrative roles to understand how a team, made up of various professionals with different skill sets, can work together to provide a service that changes lives.

“The whole team gets to be part of each person’s journey as they collaborate, celebrate, remember and bring closure for many patients and families,” Anna said.

All three students are inspired by the team environment created by the staff, who take their jobs to heart.

“These are all people who are willing and passionate about serving others,” Nathan said.

For the interns, working with hospice has also provided a safe place for them to personally experience the variety of emotions and discover the questions they have about the end of life.

“The staff take the time to be present with the patients and to meet their needs wherever they’re at,” Anna says. “This makes such a difference in helping people pass in their own way. I’ve learned it’s an individual process.”

As the interns carry this experience with them in their own professional journeys (some have a new desire to work in hospice or with the geriatric population), they’ve also learned the importance of self care.

“[This field] can be emotionally trying,” Karen said. “It can be emotional seeing a decline in an individual who you work with, but you also have to be a support to the family. You have to know how to care for yourself.”

“This is an incredibly resilient and caring group,” Anna said. “If I was a patient, I would want the care this team provides.”