Practicum Experience in Grenada

By Kate Gulbrand
August 18, 2014

KateDuring my last term of coursework, I completed my capstone project, which involved gathering data on the child caregivers in Grenada’s residential homes and shelters for children.  I was specifically looking at the levels of stress and burnout experienced by the caregivers because, as many know, the stress of those taking care of children will have an impact on the care they are able to provide.  Through this process, I was able to work closely with the Child Protection Authority (CPA), Grenada’s governing body for child abuse, neglect, and placement.

Because my interests in maternal and child health matched so well with the work I had conducted for my capstone and I already had a working relationship established with the CPA, I decided to peruse my practicum with the CPA.  Happily, they agreed to take me on as an intern to continue the work I had done for my capstone.

My capstone project, unfortunately, was unable to show a statistically significant amount of stress and burnout among the caregivers. However through conversations I realized it was there, I just needed a different study to show it.  My anticipation for my practicum was that I would be conducting a qualitative study, analyzing the same variables as I had with my capstone project, to determine whether or not there was a significant amount of stress and burnout.

However, when I started my practicum the focus of my work to be completed in eight weeks had shifted.  The CPA wanted me to create a program/guide for the caregivers on how to 1) reduce their own stress and 2) help the caregivers to better help the children living in the shelters deal with the stressors of their own lives.  The other item I was tasked with was evaluating and revamping the sex education program designed to help the caregivers discuss and teach sexual health to the children living in the shelters.

I had never created a program from the ground up, so I spent most of my first few days researching other similar programs and learning about child and adolescent stress.  I am now almost half way through my practicum and I have the stress program almost completed. Once I am finished, I will be presenting it to the staff in the first week of September. In the meantime, I am going to start the program evaluation of the sex ed program and hopefully have it finished by the end of my practicum.

My hopes are that after the program development I will be able to write a policy for the CPA that will entail required training on both stress and sex ed. for all incoming staff. I have done much more than I thought I would be able to do in just four weeks so far, and I have had a great experience thus far with my practicum. One thing I have learned is accept when things change that I have no control over. I also have learned that the real life experience is key to understanding how public health plays into so many roles of society. It is also has been key for me to realize just how much I have learned in the past year, and how much more is out there for me to learn.

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