My name is Maya Tadross, and I am a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in neuroscience. My interest in mental health treatment and research stems from the lived experience of anxiety disorders of individuals close to me while I was in high school. During my sophomore year of college, I began working as a research assistant in Dr. Jon Abramowitz’s Stress and Anxiety Lab. I have assisted in study design, data collection, and data analysis on several studies, the most recent of which is my senior honor’s thesis on the quality of TikTok videos about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I have also gained research experience on a wider variety of psychiatric disorders as the junior clinical research assistant at Rogers Behavioral Health’s Research Center. This past summer, I had the opportunity to attain clinical experience as a counselor at the Child Mind Institute’s Summer Treatment Program, an intensive therapeutic day camp for children with ADHD and other externalizing disorders. I aspire to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and do a combination of research and clinical work with children and adolescents who live with comorbid OCD and ADHD.
This semester I am the Gil Intern at 3-C Family Services, a large private practice mental health clinic with offices in both Durham and Cary. 3-C Family Services offers a wide variety of assessment and treatment options for a diverse population. The practice includes psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, and an educational consultant. 3-C clinicians work in teams to ensure their patients are receiving the most appropriate evidence-based care for their disorder or concern. Further, all clinicians convene for weekly case conferences to discuss particularly challenging cases and offer each other advice from different perspectives. I have been observing case conferences for several weeks, and recently I have begun to participate in them by asking questions and sharing what projects I have been working on.
My mentor, Dr Lori Schweickert, psychiatrist and medical director at 3-C Family Services, as well as other clinicians have recruited me to lead or assist with many projects. I have written several literature reviews on subjects such as aphantasia, off-label medication uses, and interactive metronome training, all of which clinicians have used directly to guide patient care. For example, Dr. Schweickert has a patient with a unique combination of comorbid conditions and was considering adding an off-label medication to this patient’s treatment regimen. I gathered all the empirical papers I could find about this medication for this combination of disorders and fell upon a case study very similar to Dr. Schweickert’s patient. She forwarded this case study to the patient, and now the patient has begun the starting dose of the medication. It feels very exciting to be a part of patient care as an undergraduate.
Another big project I have been working on for several weeks is a comprehensive literature review on attenuating the extreme weight gain side effect of the atypical antipsychotic olanzapine. This review was inspired by psychiatrist Dr. Leigh Blalock’s patient, who responded very well to olanzapine but experienced extreme and distressing weight gain. I have been creating a short presentation on the mechanisms of olanzapine weight gain and all the treatment strategies that have been used to target it. I will present this review at next week’s case conference, and hopefully Dr. Blalock will be able to make a more informed decision on a secondary treatment for olanzapine’s main side effect.
My research on olanzapine led to another project that I began today: creating a spreadsheet of all the second generation antipsychotics, their use indications, and side effects. This spreadsheet will be helpful for not only psychiatrists, but also patients and patient families when weighing the benefits and risks of starting a new medication.
Finally, I will be on the committee responsible for completely updating 3-C’s intake forms. We will be asking each clinician what data they want from new patients and compiling it into as brief an intake form as possible. This will help all clinicians deliver better care to new patients. So far I have really enjoyed my time working at 3-C Family Services and have learned so much, not only from my research and projects but also from the clinicians in the practice. I look forward to see where this internship leads me!