My name is Emily Dolegowski and I am a junior from Raleigh, North Carolina, double-majoring in Psychology and Slavic & East European Languages & Cultures with a concentration in Polish. For the past year and a half, I have worked as a research assistant in Dr. Anna Bardone-Cone’s Eating Disorder Lab, where we study central coherence in people with eating disorders and implicit weight bias in diverse populations. I have also spent the past year working for the Community Alternatives Program for Children as a pediatric nursing aide, a position in which I care for and work with my four-year-old niece who has special needs. After graduating, I would like to obtain a Master of Social Work degree at UNC. I plan to work as a LCSW in an eating disorder hospital upon completion of my studies.
Through the Karen M. Gil Internship, I have had the amazing opportunity to work at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD). The CIDD is an interdisciplinary institution which holds various clinics for an array of developmental disabilities. At the CIDD, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, speech-language pathologists, education specialists, and other types of professionals and trainees come together to provide holistic care, recommendations, and resources for people with developmental disabilities. Though I knew very little about developmental disabilities at the beginning of my internship, I was matched with this worksite because I wanted an internship as rich in clinical experience as possible. As I hoped, the CIDD has provided me with a diverse range of clinical experiences beyond what I ever could have imagined possible as an undergraduate student.
My main mentors in my time at the CIDD have been clinical psychologists Dr. Laura Hiruma and Dr. Jean Mankowski. With Dr. Hiruma, I have shadowed and participated in diagnostic evaluations for preschoolers and adults for whom there is a question of autism spectrum disorder. In these diagnostic clinics, I have witnessed the administration of cognitive and behavioral assessments, learned how to score and interpret the results of such assessments, and participated in the team discussions through which team members come together to determine if a patient has ASD. I have also observed the Behavioral Medicine Clinic each week, which provides behavioral management and psychiatric services to patients with particularly dysfunctional behaviors. In this clinic, I have watched a psychologist and psychiatrist team work with individuals and their families to navigate through and treat these behaviors.
These are two of the ways I have spent my time at the CIDD, but I have also worked outside of the realm of the clinical psychologists’ work. For example, I have had the opportunity to facilitate a weekly DBT group for adults with intellectual disabilities, as well as sit in on the individual sessions of one of the adults in this group. In both group and individual sessions, I have worked with social workers and even a previous Gil intern who is about to complete her Master of Social Work – she interned at the CIDD and worked in the research lab I work in! This work was particularly enjoyable for me, as I came to see the future opportunities this internship can lead to. I also observed psychiatric consults and worked on the intake and triage process at my time at the CIDD, which allowed me to see other realms of patient care and the additional work mental health professionals have apart from patient care, respectively.
As my time at the CIDD is coming to a close, I will be truly sad to leave on my last day. However, I am so thankful for my experiences and the time I have spent at the CIDD. It has helped me grow tremendously both as a professional and as a person. I would like to thank Dr. Hazlett for working with me to find opportunities at the CIDD that aligned with my interests; Dr. Hiruma for constantly teaching me new things and encouraging my curiosity; Dr. Mankowski for always helping me with anything I needed; and Ms. Parlier and Ms. Mergner for showing me that a career in social work is my true calling.