I agree with what others have posted so far. I have my Masters in Counseling Psych and did some of the work you are considering (not the hospice, but the rape and SA work).
Bundaries early, boundaries often—that’s the biggest piece of advice I have. Boundaries with your clients, your employers, even the other people in your life.
I think it’s natural when just starting out to be very full of energy and idealistic. I know for me, I was in a much different place personally (no husband or kids), so I was less affected by being on call all the time. I encouraged my clients to page me whenever, without strict parameters around when it’s necessary and appropriate. Thing is, people will page you for an emergency (to them) that isn’t an emergency (to you) and it’s very difficult to set boundaries after the fact.
It’s rewarding work, but also exhausting work. Make sure you build in vacations where you leave your beeper/cell phone/ whatever at home and have someone else cover your caseload. This can be difficult at the beginning when you’re not pulling in a lot of money, but it’s the best thing to prevent burnout.
The boundaries with friends was important to me because I had some very needy people in my life who treated me like I was their therapist. Most days, I was so tired from listening to other people, that it was just unbearable to have one more person talk at me and want me to help with their problem. You need reciprocal relationships.
And after you graduated, when you’re still needing to build up hours before getting your LICSW, be careful who you go to work for. I was working at an agency that pretty much chewed people up and spit them out (after getting as much work as humanly possible out of them and then some). Fee for Service might seem attractive because it pays pretty well, but remember that you will have to pay self-employment taxes and that your time spent doing paperwork and making phone calls will be uncompensated.
Well, I’m getting ahead of your question, I guess. But it’s really important to look at how this will fit into your life big picture. I say this as someone who no longer sees clients and doesn’t think she will ever, ever go back. But that’s me—I had terrible boundaries, worked myself to death, and just burned out.