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      Out-of-state interns enjoy rural hospital life at VA

      The Oscar G. Johnson Medical Center in Iron Mountain is in its second year of offering a Psycholgy internship to graduate students from around the country.

      â??I was in a really multi-cultural, Miami- busy lifestyle and I came here,â?? said Doctoral Psychology Intern, Erika Guzman. â??I was kind of confused how it was going to be for me, but Iâ??ve loved it. The people in the community have been absolutely welcoming.â??

      Carmela Tress, another intern, is an East Coaster, but the two of them are graduate students who are fulfilling their required internship prior to graduation. They both wanted to work with veterans and saw the programs available at the VA were what they wanted.

      â??Theyâ??re very recovery-oriented which is what I did of lot of research on throughout my training, and it sounded like it was a program that had a lot of good things going on in the staff,â?? Tress said.

      Dr. Barbara Belew is the training director for this program, and has enjoyed working with the interns these 11 months.

      â??A few years ago, the VA recognized the need to train more psychologists to work in rural areas so the grant that allowed us to start this program was part of a VA rollout of training in rural areas,â?? Belew said.

      The department had a site visit last week from the American Psychological Association for official program accreditation that they expect will happen this coming November.

      Although this VA is in a more rural community, the women say they've been pleasantly surprised how many services and programs are offered here.

      â??It has been wonderful here to see peer support and working with people that have had longer term issues, not stuff you fix easy, but stuff people work on for all of their lives,â?? Tress said.

      â??Itâ??s often difficult to attract professionals to rural areas,â?? Belew said. â??Many professionals choose to stay in urban areas, so the more exposure we give to upcoming psychologists, the more likely to attract psychologists to work here in the future.â??

      The two women will finish up next month, and are expected to graduate in August.