Feature

When one of Christine Cheng's clients runs late, it's a safe bet he or she is scrubbing off finger paint or still stacking dodge balls after gym.

Cheng works at the Montefiore Medical Center School Health Clinic at P.S. 105, an elementary school in the Bronx in New York City, as a clinical psychologist on the school health center's primary-care team. Along with a family nurse practitioner, Cheng serves the clinic's 1,275 students, addressing such problems as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She sees children who, for example, come in for stomach aches and admit that their parents had a bad fight the night before, or need help managing their diabetes or asthma.

More referrals come from teachers and the two school psychologists who conduct testing for the school, who notice students with social and emotional problems that Cheng can help with. Often, they tap Cheng to sit in on students' individualized education plan meetings. Cheng says she loves the team approach to care and easy access to students.

"Because I am right in the school, I can just call for the child and they come right down," says Cheng, who schedules with teachers so students don't miss key school activities. "I can pick up the phone and ask the teacher how they are doing, and teachers call me when a child is particularly out of sorts."

—J. Chamberlin