My name is Tien Phan, and I am a junior from Raleigh, North Carolina, double-majoring in chemistry and neuroscience with a minor in biology. For roughly a year, I worked as a research assistant in Dr. Clyde Hodge’s lab, where we studied alcohol-seeking behavior with mice using operant chambers to identify and study neural targets associated with alcohol reinforcement. I am currently a research assistant under Dr. Colin Wallace, analyzing exam data from introductory physics courses to determine common errors that students experience with RC circuits. I have worked four semesters as a peer mentor for Analytical Chemistry (Chem 241) and as a laboratory teaching assistant for Chem 102L. After graduation, I hope to attend medical school.
I have had the incredible opportunity to intern at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) this spring semester through the Karen M. Gil Internship. At the CIDD, a team of psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, among other professionals, work together to provide diagnostic clarification, mental health and psychological assessments, and treatment recommendations for people with developmental disabilities. Each team consists of professionals and trainees from different disciplines and provides an excellent teaching and learning environment where all feedback and all voices are welcomed.
My primary mentors during my time here at the CIDD have been Dr. Jean Mankowski, Dr. Stephanie Fox, and Dr. Anne Wheeler. At the CIDD and under the guidance of my mentors, I have had the pleasure to observe and work on some of these clinics/teams. I am currently working with the School Age Team, the Hearing and Developmental Clinic, and the Angelman/Dup15 Clinics. I have been given the opportunity to observe diagnostic evaluations for children suspected of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to observe and evaluate cognitive and behavioral skills of children with speech/hearing disabilities. In my student role, I have been able to provide feedback and learn to score patient assessments through observing their interactions with the professionals and other trainees. Through working on these teams, I have learned the intricacies of diagnostic evaluations and the importance of horizontal teamwork. The team went, one-by-one, through each question of the evaluation, discussed them, and agreed on a score. Through this emphasis on teamwork and discussion, we can provide the best diagnosis possible. I have learned much about the diagnostic process for many developmental disabilities, but probably the most important lesson I learned from interning at the CIDD was the importance of discussion and teamwork.
Interning at the CIDD has been a personally and educationally rewarding experience. I have learned how to score different diagnostic evaluations and now have experience working directly with professionals and trainees across multiple disciplines in a clinical setting to evaluate patients. My interpersonal skills and professionalism have been strengthened through my time at the CIDD and as a Gil intern. Personally, this experience has furthered my desire to help others. This experience has made me more compassionate and understanding about disorders and disabilities that I previously had little knowledge about. Through this internship, I feel more confident in my future as a physician and as a life-long teacher and student. Finally, without their unwavering support, this incredible experience would not have been possible, so I would like to give the utmost gratitude to my mentors and the Gil Internship.