Author Archives: Roseann Fish Getchell

WHY I Chose Integrated Primary Care

With the growing wave of health psychology and integrated primary care taking the psychological world by storm, I have often been met with the question…

“WHY did you choose to train and work in integrated care?”

I find myself answering this question by merging my personal experience and passions with my professional goals of advocating for the most vulnerable people in our society.

Need. A chasm exists in the mental health world, with some of the most at-risk people in our community on one side and professionals equipped to serve them on the other. I have seen first-hand how gaps in access can ripple through entire families and communities. Real suffering is echoed in the clinics and doctors’ offices throughout our country with people facing chronic health issues such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, addiction, cancer, dementia, and more every day.

Meeting People Where They Are. Two years ago, I joined a busy integrated primary care clinic and realized the reach and impact of bringing services to patients, rather than having them navigate a complex mental health system on their own. It has been extremely energizing to engage within a multidisciplinary team with the sole goal of providing care to all patients who walk through our clinic doors.

Never a Dull Moment. This short-term, evidence-based care occurs within a fast-paced environment of twenty-minute visits, concurrent documentation in the electronic medical record, warm hand-offs, curbside consultation with providers, and completing diagnostic clarification and treatment planning with other departments in the hospital. Often meeting with ten to sixteen patients per day, my perspective on health care has drastically changed.

First Contact. At least once per day, I meet with patients who have never interacted with mental health professionals. Especially when working with older adults, I hear the phrase “I’ve never talked about this with anyone.” People are being exposed to behavioral health and therapy for the first time in their lives within their doctors’ offices; they are finding hope. Even when patients are in need of a higher level of care, it is an amazing experience to help people access therapy in their local communities and expand their network of support.

Moving Forward. My experience within integrated primary care has shown me the amazing impact a team of professionals can make in the lives of hundreds of people. Although there are always problems to solve within a system like a primary care clinic, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with so many unique, creative, and resilient people on a daily basis. I look forward to joining my peers in research, assessment, neuropsychology, community mental health, and private clinical services as we find new and innovative ways to serve our communities in the future.

What’s Your Story? Feel free to share your own reasons for choosing to train in your area of expertise within psychology in the comments section below. What motivates you? How do your personal passions and interests come alive in the work you do every day?

Author Bio:

Roseann Fish Getchell is a graduate student of clinical psychology at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. She is a member of the APAGS Committee and serves as the APAGS Member-at-Large for Membership Recruitment and Retention.



State Leadership Conference–Connecting With a Common Goal

U.S. Capitol 1793-1863 Washington, DC, USA

U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC, USA

This past month, I experienced the thrill of “hitting the hill” and advocating for psychologists, graduate students, patients, and community members around the country amidst the hustle and bustle of our nation’s capitol. It was legislative advocacy day, the finale to end my time attending the American Psychological Association State Leadership Conference (SLC) in Washington DC. I had just spent the last four days engaging in training with leaders in diversity, early career issues, social reform, legislation reform, and much more as I participated in passionate conversations with psychologists and graduate students from throughout the nation who shared a single vision—advocacy.

As I stood with clinical psychologists from across Oregon, I felt a sense of power, ownership, and support as we walked to meet several local legislators who wanted to hear about the state of mental health in our nation. While speaking to representatives and their staff, it was an amazing—and nerve racking—experience to share the stories of my patients who are struggling to access quality mental health care. So many times as a student, I have found myself becoming frustrated and discouraged when I met with patients who were experiencing a mental health crisis but who were forced to wait for care in emergency departments, friend’s homes, or on the streets. When I was standing amidst other students and psychologists who cared about people who were suffering and who were advocating for them, it filled me with a sense of hope.

This sense of optimism stemmed from so many individual experiences I had with other people attending the State Leadership Conference. One specific experience took place the night I landed in Washington DC. I was meeting several APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team members (all happened to be women) for the first time at a local restaurant for dinner. As we sat together learning each other’s stories, I was struck by the amazing work that each woman was doing in her community. Additionally, I found myself genuinely interested in not only the professional accomplishments of each individual at the table, but also in her personal reasons for getting involved in advocacy and leadership with APAGS. It was comforting and encouraging seeing the faces of women representing various regions from across the country who cared about the same issues that I did.

I am incredibly grateful for the experience I had at SLC this year—for the connection, the support, and the engagement. From meeting with lawmakers who were honestly interested in hearing about the mental health crisis in our country, to engaging with fellow graduate students who had the tenacity to take on national issues, I have been energized by these interactions. I hope to take this same energy with me as I continue graduate school and grow as a future clinician; I hope one day to come back to SLC as a psychologist who is involved in meaningful change.

With hope,

[Editor’s Note: Roseann Fish Getchell is a clinical psychology student at George Fox University and a Northwest Regional Advocacy Coordinator for APAGS-ACT.]

Writing a letter can help shape policy in your community. (Source: User dangerpup on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Finding the Time for Advocacy

Two years ago, I got swept up in mental health advocacy taking the state of Oregon by storm.

With legislation reform affecting social justice, access to quality care, and education, I was fascinated by the ability to create change within my community. In a whirlwind, I found myself discovering the new language of advocacy, being inspired by my mentors, and getting to know fellow students who are paving the way of transformation across the nation. I could picture individual patients who would be greatly affected by legislation coming out of Oregon. My passion to positively change the lives of many sprang into action.

And then…reality set in.

In the midst of my drive to engage with the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team, I still had papers to write, meetings to attend, and clients at my practicum to think about. I was overwhelmed with “finding the time” to participate in advocacy that meant so much to me, while still pass my classes. This reality hits close to home for so many graduate students and often can be the greatest deterrent when deciding whether or not to join a local, state, or national advocacy movement.

Dr. Carilyn Ellis is an early career psychologist working in primary care and a champion in the advocacy field in Oregon. She admitted that advocacy was a bit daunting when she started out as a graduate student George Fox University, but said that advocacy must begin in school. She said, “The bills, amendments, and other advocacy efforts that we are putting into action now, will be most relevant to current students, who will be practicing with these changes in effect.”

Three tiers of advocacy 

Writing a letter can help shape policy in your community. (Source: User dangerpup on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Writing a letter can help shape policy in your community. (Source: User dangerpup on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Dr. Ellis explained that there are multiple levels of engagement in advocacy that can vary in time spent focusing on advocacy—flexibility that a graduate student often needs.

  • The first tier of engagement involves person-centered action, such as becoming a member of a local or national advocacy group (e.g., your state psychological association, your division, and APAGS), writing letters to your local representative, signing petitions, attending state legislature meetings, and contacting representatives directly. Writing a letter (or filling in your contact info through an auto-generated email) often takes less than five minutes.
  • The second tier focuses on supporting the organizations that advocate for mental health change, whether by providing financial support, time through phone calls, or more extensive email writing. Even a donation as little as $10 can make a difference.
  • The third tier involves staying informed about the relevant issues and contributing to collective support. Simply understanding the basic factors impacting mental health within your community can lead to a greater awareness and understanding about complex systems. This can be achieved through signing up for listservs, checking in on legislative reports related to human services, and reading the websites of other legislative bodies focused on mental health.

These tiers of advocacy demonstrate that there is no perfect formula to being an advocate. Every student has a place at the table. Even when it seems like the accomplishments of graduation, and becoming a psychologist are so far away, the advocacy work that is taking place now will directly affect the way in which the field looks in the future.

As for me, I am still navigating both roles as graduate student and advocate. I find time (an average of 2 hours) throughout the week to write emails, engage with my local Oregon Psychological Association, and connect with other people who care about the same issues that I do. Honestly, some weeks are more productive than others, but I see this time as an opportunity to take some chances, rise to new challenges, learn about a new way of impacting my community, and develop my own professional voice. These are all goals that I also have as a graduate student, and I can see how my engagement with the advocacy community is pushing me to improve as an advocate, a student, and future psychologist.

How about you?

Which tier of advocacy do you see yourself working in? Feel free to leave a reply; it may inspire others to join you!

Editor’s note: Roseann Fish Getchell is a clinical psychology Psy.D. student at George Fox University and the Northwest Regional Advocacy Coordinator for the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team.