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2015/16 academic year UNC-PrimeCare trainee

Kathryn Falbo-Woodson“After 15 years in the field, I returned to graduate school in 2013 (Winston-Salem Distance Education). Leaving full-time employment and switching from a macro-level position to a more clinically-based, micro-level role required lots of support and self-care! Acceptance into UNC-PrimeCare was truly a gift. It presented an amazing opportunity that reinforced my professional goals.

UNC-PrimeCare provided a supportive network of students, professors and medical professionals, enhancing my graduate degree experience from the UNC School of Social Work. The Saturday Integrated Care classes, monthly lunchtime seminars, and inter-professional conferences bolstered the hands-on experiences I engaged in during my hours of field placement at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Elizabeth Family Medicine clinic in Charlotte. Interestingly, I was the first graduate student of social work admitted into the Integrative Psychotherapy Training Program with Community Care Partners of Greater Mecklenburg. This exceptional placement opened the door to practice integrated care – working to optimize patient care by collaborating with medical doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, health psychologists, nutritionists, case managers, care managers, and patient navigators in a primary care setting. During the 1,000-hour placement, I primarily provided brief therapeutic interventions, as well as ongoing psychotherapy for patients with co-occurring medical and mental health needs (e.g., diabetes and depression). The training and education facilitated by UNC-PrimeCare strengthened my understanding of team-based care in a fast-paced, healthcare environment.

In August 2016, I will begin my new role as Psychosocial Oncology & Survivorship Social Worker with Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute (LCI). The position with LCI presents an opportunity to facilitate psychotherapy, case management, and community outreach with individuals, families, and communities served by three clinics in the Charlotte area. LCI utilizes the collaborative care model and incorporates integrative approaches for optimal health and well-being (e.g., yoga, massage therapy, tai chi, acupuncture, etc.). Furthermore, LCI offers every patient access to the same treatment options, regardless of severity or type of cancer, income or insurance. Being a part of an integrative health care team is exactly what I hoped to be doing after graduation. Having personal experience supporting a family member with complex medical needs, I already know the value and worth of the work I’ll be doing.

I do not regret the challenges I encountered to reach this point in my career. I can honestly say that the countless hours of driving from the Charlotte area to Chapel Hill, early mornings of studying, late nights of reading, and even missing some of my children’s tennis matches & ball games were all worth it to obtain my MSW. In fact, I am confident that I have evolved in many ways that inspire continued growth as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, therapist and social worker because of the people and interactions facilitated by the UNC School of Social Work and UNC-PrimeCare. Now, I am offering a more improved resource – my best (or better) self – to others in their quest for whole health and wellness.”

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