Dukarm has been an APA member since 1990.
What he does
Dukarm is the only neuropsychologist at the Alaska Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, whose main clinic is located in Anchorage. He was hired in 2008 to set up a program that evaluates veterans with polytrauma — two or more physical or psychological injuries resulting from a single event. Because of the state's vastness, Dukarm assesses patients both in person and via videoconferencing. "In terms of patient care, videoconferencing works very well and saves them a lot of hassle," says Dukarm. He also provides more general neuropsychological services for patients with dementia, traumatic brain injuries and other problems. More recently, he implemented a neurobehavioral rehabilitation program to complement the assessment services. "It's a great challenge and adventure to be an early career neuropsychologist who gets to stand up a program and start from scratch," says Dukarm, who is also the neuropsychology rotation supervisor for the Alaska VA Psychology Internship Program and who teaches biopsychology and tests and measurement at the University of Alaska–Anchorage.
What drove him to psychology
In high school, Dukarm took a vocational interests test that gave him two choices: psychologist or bus driver. "No offense to bus drivers, but for me I think I made the right choice!" laughs Dukarm. He had planned to stop at a master's in psychology, but while at Texas A&M at Corpus Christi, an advanced physiological psychology course sparked his interest and changed his career plans. He earned a PhD in clinical psychology in 2006 from the University of Montana, then did a postdoc in clinical neuropsychology at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.
A military culture
Alaska has the highest number of veterans per capita of any state, says Dukarm, and there's also a "fairly dense active duty" population along with a heavy Coast Guard presence. Although Dukarm has never served in the military himself, working at the VA seems natural: His brother, father, uncles and grandfathers were all military men. Dukarm got his first professional exposure to the VA during his internship at the VA Black Hills Health Care System in South Dakota.
Surfing past glaciers
Dukarm tries to take advantage of everything Alaska has to offer, including cold-water surfing. "Yes, there's a small but significant surfing culture," says Dukarm, a native Texan. "It's a really spectacular place to be in the water." He also hikes, fishes and just enjoys the uniqueness of his adopted home, such as finding a moose in his driveway or a black bear running around the parking lot at work. "Work shuts down and everyone watches while the police try to corral it," he says.
—Rebecca A. Clay
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