Category Archives: Graduate School

Translating Psychology from the Classroom to the Community

By Rachel Moore and Michael K. Scullin (Baylor University)

Hi all! We’re Rachel Moore (student) and Michael Scullin (professor), and we are teaming up to show you how to go from being a student of psychology to an ambassador of psychology.

Across two class assignments in 2016, Baylor University students translated psychological science from the classroom to the community. The students collectively produced 15 community outreach projects on sleep health and 19 “news” videos on human cognition. Below we interweave the professor’s view and student’s view on the two classroom assignments.

Community Outreach Project on Sleep Health

Professor Says:

As a sleep researcher, I spend a lot of hours in the lab (not sleeping), without direct contact with the families who might benefit from my research. Therefore, I asked the local Children’s Science Museum if my lab could create a “pop-up” exhibit. For an entire day, we held a booth of sleep science activities and taught kids and their families about sleep. It was a lot of fun. I think we learned as much from the families as they did from us.  Following this transformational experience, I challenged students in my Sleep class to create an innovative, community-based outreach project that promoted sleep awareness.

Student Says:

The community outreach project intimidated me! It extended beyond the comfortable bubble of homework and tests, and I feared the impending face-to-face interaction with strangers. In the beginning, I remember thinking I was in no position to interrupt people’s lives with some information I learned in classes—why would they want to listen to me?  Understanding that friends, family, other students, or strangers may exist on the receiving end of our work raised the stakes to convey information as clearly and effectively as I could. So we had to buckle down and ask ourselves, “What do we find important? Who should know this information? How will we share?”

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Dear Me, Future Psychologist. Yours truly, Dr. Y. Barry Chung

It’s time for the next installment of Dear me, future psychologist, a gradPSYCH Blog exclusive in which a prominent psychologist writes a letter to his/her 16-year-old self. We hope you enjoy these letters and glean some invaluable wisdom and guidance as you decide whether to enter graduate school in psychology, as you navigate the challenges of graduate school, and as you make decisions about your career and life.

Y. B. ChungThis letter is from Dr. Y. Barry Chung. Dr. Chung received his PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996. He was a faculty member at Georgia State University and Department Chair at Northeastern University, before joining the faculty at Indiana University Bloomington where he is currently Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. Dr. Chung is a past President of the National Career Development Association and Society of Counseling Psychology, and is President-Elect of the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs. He is known for his scholarly work on career development, multicultural counseling, and sexual orientation and gender identity issues. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Divisions 17, 44, and 45), Asian American Psychological Association, and National Career Development Association.

DEAR-ME

FROM THE DESK OF Y. Barry Chung:

April 2017

Dear Me at 16,

This letter is from you when you are 53. I hope the letter reaches you alright via the time travel machine.  I know you are still in high school in Hong Kong, and have no idea what your future may hold.  But if you don’t mind knowing ahead of time, there will be lots of major changes in your life.  You will live in a different country (USA), speak English daily (I know, trust me, you can!), and you will be a psychology professor, university administrator, and leader of several national associations.  I know these may be too much to take in right now, when you are still struggling to grow up, living in poverty.  But trust me, they will all happen.  Well, I am writing today to give you some advice.  You may not need it (evidently you have become me), but as your older self I would like to help.

First, I know you are struggling with that “odd” feeling that you are attracted to men. Don’t be afraid.  It is only natural, and life gets better.  You will come out as a gay man in your 20s, and ultimately find a loving life partner when you are 39 (yeah it takes time and be patient with all the heartbreaks).  You will devote most of your career to researching on and advocating for LGBT issues.  In fact, you are probably most known by your professional peers for your LGBT work, and eventually you decide to leave a bequest donation to support LGBT research when you leave this world.  For now, just trust your feelings and don’t allow others and society to make you become someone else.  Your experience with heterosexism will be a powerful motivation to pursue the kind of work that will benefit people like yourself.

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Top 10 Reasons to Complete Your Dissertation Before Internship

I, like many other interns, started my internship year without having completed my dissertation. I knew it wasn’t ideal to be a full-time intern and work on my dissertation, but I figured since I made it through 5 years of graduate school simultaneously juggling other responsibilities and survived, I would be “okay” managing both of these tasks. Upon reflection, I wish I would have considered just how different and more demanding the internship year really is. As such, here are my top 10 reasons to complete your dissertation before internship (in no particular order). Please feel free to share your reasons in the comment section below!

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My Path to Working at an Association

If you had told me 20 years ago that I would one day work at the American Psychological Association, I would have laughed and said, “No way!” I was committed to one day working in a hospital as a pediatric psychologist. But after 8 years as Associate Executive Director of APAGS, I can say that this is a job that I have relished. Who knew?

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Developing the APAGS Strategic Plan with the APAGS Committee, Washington, DC, 2012.

How did I get to APA as a staff member? Primarily, it was because I got involved. I served 4 years on the APAGS Committee as Member at Large and Chair of the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns. I also was the student representative on the Ethics Code Task Force, revising the APA Ethics Code. After 4 years as a student leader, I took some time off from APA while I started my dream job in a department of pediatrics at a county hospital. I returned to APA leadership a few years later as a founding member of the Committee on Early Career Psychologists, followed by a term on the Board of Professional Affairs. It was halfway through my term on BPA that the AED position opened up at APAGS. My leadership experience at APA and other organizations (primarily Ohio Psychological Association and the Society of Pediatric Psychology) opened up the doors.

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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.