The minds behind the APA Annual Convention session "Psychology careers," on Friday, July 30, 1:00-1:50 p.m., want students to know that unusual degree applications aren't daunting or to be avoided. Session panelists are applying psychology to such areas as policy-making, building a niche business and preparing the nation for major demographic shifts.
"The PhD path may seem set, but sometimes that doesn't happen-there are twists and turns," says California State University-San Marcos (CSUSM) student Christine Balisle, co-chair of the session with fellow CSUSM student Angela Gorzeman.
Speakers at the session who have welcomed those twists and turns include:
CHRISTINE R. GUZZARDO, PhD
Her start: A psychology master's degree and experience as a mental health worker at an acute-care psychiatric hospital helped Guzzardo gain entry into the University of Southern California doctoral program in counseling psychology in 1995.
Her twist: Guzzardo opted for predoctoral practicum hours in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) postdoctoral program in neuropsychology, where she received intensive mentoring in neuropsychological testing of children.
In 2000, Guzzardo went on to pursue a two-year neuropsychology fellowship at UCLA, and from there joined a Spokane, Washington, group psychology practice to do neuropsychological testing of children and older adults. Last year, she started her own private practice mostly seeing children with behavioral, developmental and medical problems. She also treats adults for brain injury, seizures and the like. As one of just three neuropsychologists in the area, she says her managed care-reliant private practice has thrived.
"I've built a niche for myself," she says, adding that she even manages to carve out time for some traditional adult therapy and teaching as an adjunct professor at Gonzaga University.
ANN MARIE WHITE, EdD
Her start: White took the education research path, receiving her EdD in human development and psychology from Harvard University in 2002.
Her twist: Before and during her doctoral training, White gathered experience studying-and consulting on others' research on-areas such as early-childhood and after-school care, and the influence of schooling on children's learning during nonschool hours. But she wanted a switch from academe to big-picture research and policy agenda-setting. In fact, she'd always sought a "policy immersion experience," so she applied for and landed two consecutive Society for Research in Child Development Policy fellowships.
In the first one, she worked for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee for Children and Families, informing its reauthorization of, for example, child-care and Head Start legislation. In her second and current fellowship-in the National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research-White helps develop trans-institute initiatives for behavioral and social sciences that she says are fundamental to illness prevention, treatment and health promotion. The policy work is honing her research translation skills-important, she says, "because research translation requires equal attention and practice if the research is to drive benefits to the public."
GERARDO M. GONZALEZ, PhD
His start: When Gonzalez began his PhD training in the mid-1980s at the California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno (now part of Alliant International University), his sights were set on practice.
His twist:During his graduate training, Gonzalez grew increasingly interested in teaching and in studying community and mental health aspects of Latinos. In 1991, he traded his practice focus for a post teaching and conducting research on Latinos and depression at CSUSM. In 2002, he became director of its National Latino Research Center, which has pioneered bilingual computerized speech-recognition assessment of depression.
It's a job, he says, that "affects the wider world because our innovative research…identifies many people who would not have sought help for depression"-and who belong to the fastest-growing U.S. demographic group.
SONIA Y. RUIZ, PhD
Her start: Ruiz earned her clinical psychology doctorate from Arizona State University, Tempe, in 2000, and shortly afterward secured an assistant professor slot at CSUSM. (She was relieved because, despite her many applications, CSUSM was her only interview.)
Her twist: While her academic position may be a bit traditional, Ruiz's research is less so. Her work-examining acculturation's effects on childhood obesity among Mexican-American families-puts a public health spin on her clinical psychology background. She recently submitted a large grant to start a research program that's a precursor to culturally appropriate treatment for the families. Landing that grant would be twist enough for Ruiz.
LE'ROY E. REESE, PhD
His start: Reese attended Ohio State University for his clinical psychology doctorate, studying health promotion in underprivileged African-American, and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic communities. From there, he took his research to Chicago State University, where he served on the faculty until 1998.
His twist: Reese liked Chicago State but sought a more research-focused employer. So it was "fortuitous," he says, when psychologist Rodney Hammond, PhD, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division for violence prevention, called Reese with a job opening. Hammond needed someone to supervise a team of PhDs and MDs conducting community violence-prevention research, and Reese jumped at the chance.
He says the work has opened his eyes to the advantages of interdisciplinary research. "It's been a huge benefit to understand this big-picture thing called public health," he explains. Yet even while Reese sets national research agendas, he keeps a foot in academe, teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Atlanta's Morehouse School of Medicine.