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My name is Carol Tran, and I am a senior from Charlotte, NC with a major in psychology and minors in art history and chemistry. Through the Gil Internship, I have been fortunate enough to be placed at Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill (CPCH) to understand the workflow of a psychiatric private practice in order to enrich my own knowledge on the journey of going to medical school. I work underneath my mentor, Dr. Jennie Byrne as well as the Patient Care Coordinator, the Office Manager, and all of the psychiatrists that practice there. CPCH is a private practice that really puts their patients first, making sure than many doctors have flexible hours such as after 5 PM on weekdays or even Saturdays. In addition to that, CPCH also has psychiatrists combine therapy with medication treatment, a philosophy I strongly believe in that can really improve the mental health of so many individuals seeking treatment.

My interest in psychology started while I was going through middle school and high school. Having my own personal experiences as well as losing a close friend, I was driven by the desire to not have anybody else ever feel the same way or suffer through a mental civil war by themselves. I began to take more classes in school in order to somehow find explanations to such frustrating mental experiences that so many of my peers were going through. Upon coming to UNC, my research experience with adolescents with depression and anxiety really opened my eyes to the amazing impact that child psychiatrists have. Fascinated by pursuing a medical career combined with psychology, I got further research experience working with the Institute of Trauma Recovery with UNC’s anesthesiology department, partaking in routine follow-ups with victims of sexual assault to analyze their chronic mental and physical pains.

With all of this research experience, the Gil Internship has given me the incredible opportunity of clinical field experience where I get to interact with patients one-on-one. Moreover, I get to see multiple doctors’ perspective on what being a physician means to them and what their daily challenges are. This is such a valuable experience because it gives me the chance to see how psychiatrists choose to establish a connection with their patients, balance between work and personal life, and deal with various clinical, legal, and mental challenges.

At CPCH, there is so much going on from the administrative staff to the doctors themselves in order to make it a comfortable and efficient experience for the patient. My tasks as a Gil Intern here vary greatly from administrative clerical work, interviewing physicians, shadowing physicians, and conducting my own independent research project. I am learning so much about what patients prefer in their care and how much great service means to them. Being able to facilitate good patient care and having this hands-on experience is such a unique skill that I get to develop. My experience at CPCH is so amazing and reinforces my goal of attending medical school and becoming a psychiatrist everytime that I come in. I am looking forward to continue building more connections and gathering more knowledge about the doctor-patient relationship as the semester continues.

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