Over the past five years, The Child Development Center of America has been fortunate to host a number of ‘interns’. These are bright, young people who wish to get experience in a medical setting, work with families, and learn about the challenges of raising children who have developmental concerns. Some have stayed with the practice or gone on to further their careers. This year, we are losing another valuable staffer to the outside world. I am proud to have mentored Kelsey and asked (coerced, cajoled, begged) her to tell her story:
After being introduced to Dr. Udell and hearing about his special needs pediatric practice, I was intrigued to find out more. I met with the office manager, Karen, and we spoke about interning for Child Development Center of America. I really had no idea what to expect. Aside from working with a special needs youth soccer league, my experience was limited. During my first several weeks, I was so nervous; everyone else involved in the practice had a child or sibling ‘on the spectrum’.
My other interning experiences had all been strictly, “by the book” medical protocols. I was introduced me to a different way of thinking, changing and challenging my previous cookie cutter methodology. The Center’s approach is unique and can be intimidating at first, especially paired with Dr. Udell’s sometimes intense personality, but I quickly realized that it comes from his burning passion and deep caring for his patients. How many other doctors take patients’ calls at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night?
The time that I have spent at CDCA has been a great learning experience. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn first-hand from someone who I’d like to emulate for my own patients one day, after attending Drexel – Hahnemann PA school in Philadelphia. Not only did I have the opportunity to observe a different approach, I learned to expand my thought process, to explore all possibilities, and to think outside the box. I believe this is an invaluable skill, which I plan to utilize when I begin practicing.
I have asked a multitude of questions of everyone at the office, and people always took the time to not only answer my questions but to fully explain and engage with me. I have learned how to interact with patients and parents; whether it is knowing when to take a sterner approach, when to be more lenient, to be empathetic and supportive to the new parents who are embarking on an emotional rollercoaster. I have been bit, hit, yelled at, and at times talked down to, just like everyone else who works here, but I have also had the great pleasure of interacting with so many truly amazing children and parents.
Understanding autism is extremely tricky because no two children are alike. It is not like other disorders where patient A presents with X, Y, and Z therefore their diagnosis is Q. I think this makes things even more difficult on parents because they see one child progressing in a specific area and tend to compare. This can be hard to explain to parents, but it is vital to keep in mind that cases vary and although one child may have strengths in one area, your child may have strengths in another. I believe it is important to keep this in mind and focus on YOUR child’s improvements; it takes time, but Dr. Udell’s protocol can get your child to progress. I truly believe in what we do.
It’s going to be hard to leave in a few short weeks because this staff truly feels like an extended family; extremely close and intertwined. We have become more than just coworkers and I am going to miss everyone here, but I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with, and learn from, all of these wonderful people.