1. What does your routine day look like?
For me, there is a rarely a routine day; however, that is what keeps me on my toes and the job interesting. My priority each day is seeing both inpatients and outpatients for psychological interventions addressing anxiety, depression, adherence, coping pre- or post-transplant, and other issues. Another part of my job involves conducting pre-transplant psychology evaluations to assess for any psychosocial strengths and challenges that may impact a patient and family’s coping throughout the transplant process. I also attend weekly multidisciplinary transplant meetings for each of our organ teams. As well, I run our psychosocial rounds to discuss psychosocial challenges impacting our patients and strategize interventions to help address these concerns. Additionally, I provide supervision to our psychology fellows who are completing rotations in solid organ transplant. Lastly, if I have time in my day, I will work on a variety of QI, program development, and research initiatives.
2. What are you most proud of?
My role as a pediatric transplant psychologist is exceptionally rewarding in a lot of different ways. In my two and a half years at my current institution, I’ve been able to implement a few programs to help identify psychosocial needs in our patients. The program I’m most proud of is our psychosocial screening process in the heart and kidney transplant programs. This screener helps to identify any anxiety, depression, adherence, or psychological stress concerns. Through this program, we’ve been able to provide referrals for patients to psychology, as well as increasing the psychological mindedness of multidisciplinary team members. In 2021, we will be working towards launching this program in our liver and lung transplant programs.
3. Are there any challenges in your role?
The biggest challenges in my role are balancing time and overcoming the stigma related to mental health. With clinical care being a priority, other research and program development projects sometimes get placed on hold. Additionally, while it is improving, there is still stigma related to mental health diagnoses and care. As a psychologist, I often have direct conversations with patients and families to help them understand the role of a pediatric transplant psychologist and to increase their comfort in participating in psychological intervention. These challenges are certainly not unique to me, but something that many pediatric transplant psychologists face.
4. What would you tell others who are interested in pursuing this career?
I absolutely love being a psychologist, specifically a pediatric transplant psychologist. Being a pediatric transplant psychologist, comes with wonderful opportunities to make a difference in patient and families’ lives; but, it does also leave you faced with difficult situations at times. Unfortunately, sometimes there are less than ideal outcomes when a patient reaches end of life. I see helping a family through one of the toughest times in their lives as a unique privilege It is vital for pediatric transplant psychologists to develop skills not only in psychological intervention, but also in seeking consultation, support and self-care.If someone is interested in becoming a pediatric transplant psychologist, I would encourage them to find opportunities to work within a hospital or clinic with transplant patients and families. This will allow for a firsthand experience of what the day to day can be like. Also, anyone reading this who is interested in becoming a pediatric transplant psychologist and has questions is always welcome to reach out to me. I’m always happy to share more information and guidance about the process and career.
5. How does an IPTA membership enrich your career?
When I joined IPTA several years ago as a member, I don’t think I realized how much it would enrich my career. Being a member of the organization has provided opportunities for learning and network. I experienced this first hand at the conference in Vancouver where I was able to learn more about medical and psychosocial issues related to transplantation and the opportunity to converse with other allied health professionals. Becoming more involved in the Allied Health committee has been a wonderful opportunity to collaborate on projects with allied health colleagues.