As a Gil Intern, I have spent the past 10 weeks of the semester working under Dr. Pete Duquette at The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD). Unlike most of the other interns, my time spent at the CIDD is not focused on a specific project or research question, so it is difficult for me to quantify what exactly I do. I observe and work with a hodgepodge of groups and clinics including an adult social skills group, the only Angelman Syndrome clinic in the country, and a School-Age clinic. Despite the dynamic nature of the CIDD, I have settled into a comfortable role in each of the different groups. I spend most of my time observing the administration of behavioral and cognitive assessments, scoring assessments, and taking observational notes on clients’ behaviors.
On a typical day, I walk into the CIDD only knowing which clinic is being held. Only once I receive a copy of that day’s chart reviews do I really get a sense of the team’s plans. Each day is a new venture because every client we see has a unique personality and needs. For example, one particularly rambunctious client enjoyed throwing cups of water in the post-docs’ face. Only an experiential program like the Gil Internship can really help you learn how to react in that kind of situation—I’ve never seen a textbook cover “what to do when you’re soaking wet and still have 20 minutes of an assessment left.”
As a soon-to-be graduate, one of my main priorities is figuring out what to do after graduating, specifically what kind of graduate program to enroll in. Before the Gil Internship, all of the mentors I came across were either in the process of getting a PhD in psychology or already had their PhD. Naturally, my thoughts about graduate school have been limited in scope: PhD or bust. However, the CIDD utilizes a multidisciplinary approach in each of their clinics, so I am lucky to have the opportunity to learn about many fields concurrently. I have not only gotten direct clinical experience in psychology, but also social work, speech and language, physical and occupational therapy, and education. My absolute favorite part of working at the CIDD has been watching the teams come together after a full day of assessments and interviews to collaborate about future recommendations for the client. Though I have been introduced to many more career possibilities, I feel oddly calm. My internship at the CIDD has solidified my passion for clinical work with people with developmental disabilities and has allowed me to step back from the process of choosing a career field to look at the bigger picture. At the end of the day, each of these disciplines and I share the same goal—to help these clients fulfill their potentials.
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