My name is Hannah Kim and I’m a senior from Ridgefield, CT. I’m majoring in Psychology and Economics, minoring in Social and Economic Justice. I’m also a Chancellor’s Science Scholar as well as an active member of the Buckley Public Service Scholars program. I’ve worked as a research assistant in Dr. Eric Youngstrom’s Mood, Emotions, and Clinical Child Assessment (MECCA) Lab since my freshman year, through which I work to promote dissemination and implementation of psychological science. Out of the MECCA lab, Dr. Youngstrom and a group of students formed the non-profit student organization, Helping Give Away Psychological Science (HGAPS), for which I have served as treasurer and team leader for the past two years. I also work in Dr. Anna Bardone-Cone’s lab for eating disorders with a focus on implicit weight bias in racial and ethnic minority populations. All in all, I’m extremely passionate about helping underserved populations access quality mental healthcare, and I’m incredibly excited to have Dr. Linda Myerholtz at UNC Family Medicine serve as my Gil Internship mentor and help me dive deep into that passion.
Ever since I started my internship at the UNC Family Medicine Center (UNC FMC) in August, my dedication and appreciation for FMC’s values have grown immensely. I was admittedly a little skeptical at first, given my personal biases that a network as massive as UNC Healthcare would be bogged down with administrative busywork and bureaucratic red tape, and full of people who care more about the bottom line of income than the patients they see. Those expectations have been proven completely wrong. Yes, there are extensive protocols and restrictions in place, but I’ve found that all of these are in place to protect the welfare of patients and providers or to promote efficiency. The clinic also accepts a high volume of Medicare/Medicaid patients and offers additional financial assistance programs, and providers will often check in via telephone or even provide home visits for those who lack adequate transportation. From my short time at UNC FMC, I can confidently say that every single one of the dozens of employees I’ve met – provider or administrator – cares deeply about every patient that steps foot in the clinic, even on their most challenging days. One of the ways I am helping to streamline care and assist providers is by improving depression treatment tracking across the clinic. We have set a goal of getting 50% of patients with depression to improve their symptoms as measured by the PHQ-9 by 50% within a 15-month period, and my weekly responsibility of updating patients’ appointment notes when they are due for a follow-up screening ensures that this progress tracking is done in a timely manner.
One of the most remarkable things I get to observe as an intern with the Behavioral Health Team is how holistic wellness is truly put into action. FMC is divided into teams such that each team has both resident and attending physicians as well as nurses and support staff, multiple social workers, and a population health expert. This heterogeneous team structure allows for patients who may need multiple services to access their needs quickly, but also promotes a whole-person view of patients in the clinic. Part of my responsibility as an intern will be co-leading a mindfulness class with Dr. Myerholtz starting in two weeks, which is not limited to FMC patients and will encourage people to promote their own wellness by equipping them with coping strategies and skills to live in the moment.
I’ve already learned way more from Dr. Myerholtz and the whole FMC team than I can fit in a blog post, and I’m not even halfway done with the semester! I’m excited to see what comes next, and I’m beyond grateful to Dr. Myerholtz and everyone who makes the Gil Internship Program as excellent as it is.