Fall Field Highlight: Kaitlynn Dacey and Johnston Health Hospital

Left to right - NC State Social Work Alumni and Student Michele Fidler ('17), Andrew Van Hoy ('18), Omar Reyes ('19), Kaitlynn Dacey ('20)

Kaitlynn Dacey, an MSW student at NC State, decided to return to her hometown this fall. Beginning her final year in the MSW Program, she is completing her field internship studies at Johnston Health Hospital (JHH). As a native of Smithfield, North Carolina, Kaitlynn is excited to work with the people in her local community.

According to Kaitlynn, “Mental Health services are often not as widely available in rural counties. At JHH we are offering quality services and making it affordable. We work with Alliance to help those without insurance receive mental health services.”

Field placements in our local communities give social work students the experience they need to excel in their future careers. At Johnston Health Hospital, these students gain hands-on integrated healthcare experience in a high-paced and team-based environment. Recalling her experience thus far, Kaitlynn said, “At JHH we work in integrated treatment teams. There are nurses, a psychiatrist, nurse practitioners, recreational therapists and students who work collaboratively. We meet daily to go over the unit and work together on treatment plans and finding solutions for patients. Working with so many different disciplines has allowed me to explore different perspectives and expand my knowledge of healthcare.”

Though, Kaitlynn isn’t the first NC State student to train at Johnston Health Hospital. Kaitlynn is preceded by three former NC State Social Work students that are now employees of Johnston Heath Hospital (shown in the picture above). In discussing the healthy relationship between NC State and Johnston Health Hospital Pam Wheeler, Field Liaison and HRSA BHWET Coordinator, said, “Our student interns at JoCo Hospital are dedicated to that geographical region. They live in Johnston County and want to serve their home community. During their internship, they get trained and oriented to the hospital’s policies and procedures. They learn to complete Assessments, facilitate Groups, provide 1:1 Counseling, Family Consultations and Discharge Planning. By the end of their field placements, students are professionally trained and ready to step into vacancies at JoCo Hospital or the OP Clinic. Since their roots are already in Johnston County, the turnover has been low, adding consistency and expertise to the hospital staff.”

Thinking back on her first year of social work education at NC State, Kaitlynn believes she is prepared to contribute to the workforce. “I have learned so much from my foundation year that has assisted me at JHH. I am applying social work theories and techniques when working with patients. My advanced year has taught me more about the clinical side of behavioral health care. I am learning how to interact with different diagnoses, how medication plays a role in treatment, and what kind of community resources are available.”

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