Internships in Gerontology:

Guidelines for Preceptors and Interns Enrolled in GERONTOLOGY 395 or GERONTOLOGY 396


The internship is a course designed to expose the student to the application of Gerontology in the "real world" and to provide experience in a career-oriented setting. As an upper-division course, the internship also enables the student to sample a particular field for future career possibilities and demonstrate his/her capability within the workforce. While the internship allows for career exploration, it is a learning experience, not an employment experience.

These guidelines have been developed by the program to provide structure to the internship experience for all involved. However, the guidelines are flexible and may be tailored to the needs of a student and agency. It is expected that students taking internships have previous experiences, but the kind and amount varies individually. Similarly, the types of learning experiences available at a particular site will vary depending on the student's background and skills, the preceptor's interests and expertise, and the agency milieu. Specific modifications or goals for an internship will be developed jointly by student, faculty member, and preceptor once the internship site has been procured.

The internship is an unpaid experience. If the student has an off-campus job, the internship may not be conducted at that site, so that no conflict of interest is introduced into the experience.

Roles of Participants

The faculty member will serve as internship coordinator, supporter, and evaluator. In that regard, he/she will discuss internship sites with the student, focus on the student's interests in settings, and develop a list of three sites where potential preceptors are amenable to having an intern. During the internship, the faculty will maintain regular contact with the intern and preceptor to assure that the internship is being mutually advantageous to both parties and to afford time for counsel and critique. Additionally, the faculty member will be responsible for evaluating the student's performance within the internship and for completing the linkages to the College for grading purposes.

The preceptor will serve as on-site supervisor during the internship. In that role, he or she will be responsible for providing the intern with learning opportunities, consultation, and direction for future learning and career development. Ultimately, the internship experience should be mutually beneficial to student and agency alike, so some specifically defined tasks should be completed by the intern for the agency.

As an intern, the student will be expected to take initiative in identifying immediate learning needs and learning opportunities, ask questions, make analytical assessments of his/her experience, provide feedback to the preceptor and faculty member about the internship experience, and invest in projects as assigned that will advance the goals of the agency. Additional expectations of student behavior follow in greater detail.

Expectations of Interns
  1. To participate in day-to-day activities in order to identify gerontological concepts, theory, and research in action, and to learn processes and procedures used in the agency.
  2. To analytically examine roles, organizational structure, decision-making strategies, communication styles, inter-agency interactions, group dynamics, and constructions of reality as it relates to the life of the agency.
  3. To ask questions and seek out new learning opportunities.
  4. To read materials deemed appropriate and necessary by the preceptor and faculty member.
  5. To hold meetings every two weeks (unless other arrangements are made) with the faculty member to discuss the internship.
  6. To keep a daily journal. A "diary" is a cluster of descriptive entries about what was done that day with whom. A "journal" includes this material, but takes it several steps further. The journal should also include student reactions (or "what did you learn?") to experiences in the internship. Application of gerontological understanding should be apparent in the journal. In this regard, the intern should wear an 'analytical hat' as he/she observes the dynamics of the setting and the groups that interact there and attempt to see links between what is observed and what has been taught in the classroom. Two-week portions of the journal should be submitted at the bi-weekly meetings with the faculty member.
  7. To practice effective communication and interpersonal skills.
  8. To leave the agency with a better impression of Augustana interns than they had prior to the internship.
  9. To maintain a proper professional demeanor. This includes:
  10. With the recommendation and approval of the preceptor, develop and complete some project that will enrich the agency.

Arranging an Internship

Arrangements for the internship are made jointly by the department faculty member, the student, and an agency preceptor at least four weeks in advance of the starting date. After consultation with a student interested in an internship, the faculty member will compile a list of three or more professionals representing agencies in the student's areas of interest. Interns will prepare a Internship Plan and resume' that they will discuss with the faculty member. Interns will then schedule half-hour interviews with prospective preceptors. The decision to accept or reject an intern is made by the preceptor, not the Gerontology faculty. If the professional declines to accept an intern, the intern will be unable to enroll in the internship.


Each credit hour requires 40 hours of internship time. Therefore, a 3 credit hour internship requires 120 hours of internship (approximately 30+ hours/week for the Interim or 10+ hours/week for the semester). In the event a student's course load exceeds 16 credit hours/term, the additional hours are considered overload ($200/cr hr). (Please consult the Augustana College Catalog for additional details.)

Internship time includes hours spent at the internship site and related activities, library work, and time in sessions required by the faculty member. At least 75 percent of the total internship hours must be spent with the agency.

Internship hours should be scheduled with the preceptor so that designated times are mutually satisfactory to both parties. Thereafter, the intern is expected to be professional in keeping that schedule, being on time, and notifying the preceptor in the event he/she cannot attend at the designated hour.


The internship will be graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) basis. The student will receive a Satisfactory grade under the following circumstances:

  1. Expectations for the internship are met. Within these expectations are two graded experiences:
    1. journal
    2. bi-weekly meetings
  2. Goals tailored to the student (and approved by faculty member and preceptor) are achieved. A dimension of these goals should be some special project (agreed upon by the preceptor, student, and faculty member) which may include aspects such as project design, data gathering, summarization, analysis, report preparation and/or presentation.
  3. At the conclusion of the internship (due no later than 10 days after the completion of the internship), a seven-page paper summarizing the internship experience is submitted. This paper will reflect on the total internship experience in terms of anticipated (and unanticipated) learning outcomes, and anticipated outcomes that were not realized. Two of the pages of the paper should be focused on a self-evaluation related to performance and learning within the internship experience.
  4. Submission of annotated references (2 per credit hour taken) that were relevant to the happenings at the agency during the internship are presented to the faculty member. [References may be gerontological journal articles or books.]
  5. The preceptor provides a satisfactory evaluation of the intern.
  6. The student writes a thank you note to the preceptor and agency and gives it to the faculty member for mailing (no later than two weeks after the conclusion of the internship).

Internship Plan (Complete a resume (not to exceed 2 pages) and attach it to this document.)
  1. Name
  2. ID Number
  3. Class
  4. Date
  5. Local telephone number
  6. Campus box
  7. Internship Length: From (date) to (date)
  8. Number of Internship Credit Hours
  9. List the Gerontology courses (by name, not number) that you have taken. Include other electives you feel are especially relevant to your pursuit of an internship.
  10. What do you hope to learn from an internship?
  11. What agencies, if any, are you considering as prospective internship sites?
  12. What sorts of projects or independent activities might be of interest to you as you participate in the life of an agency? Examples might include conducting research, planning and orchestrating events, developing manuals or guidebooks, producing a presentation, or creating a new strategy for some part of the agency's program.
  13. Complete questions on Independent Scholarship/Independent Study form available from the Augustana Registrar's Office:

Recent Sites Used by Augustana Student Interns
Senior DayBreak, Sioux Falls, SD
TrailRidge, Sioux Falls, SD
Mary Jane Brown Good Samaritan Center, Luverne, MN
Fit for Life, Inc (50+ Fitness & Therapy Center), Kansas City, MO
Baylor-Tom Landry Fitness Center, Dallas, TX
Sioux Valley Health System, Hospice Unit, Sioux Falls, SD
Sioux Valley Health System, Speech Pathology/Communication Disorders, Sioux Falls, SD
McKennan Hospital, Sioux Falls, SD
Dow-Rummel Village, Sioux Falls, SD
Good Samaritan Luther Manor, Sioux Falls
Good Samaritan Luther Manor Special Care Unit, Sioux Falls
Center for Active Generations, Meals on Wheels, Sioux Falls
First Presbyterian Church, Sioux Falls
Alzheimer's Association Siouxland Chapter, Sioux Falls
AARP, Sioux Falls
Sioux Valley Hospital, Geriatric Services, Sioux Falls
Avera McKennan Hospice
Southridge Health Care Center, Sioux Falls
Inn on Westport, Sioux Falls

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Last updated: April 10, 2008