Due to a greater demand to treat mental and behavioral health issues, psychologists with advanced education are needed at medical institutions throughout Los Angeles. Bridget Wilcox, who earned her doctorate in psychology at John F. Kennedy University, says psychologists work as integral members of forward-thinking healthcare teams.
"Every medical condition has a psychological component. Thus, psychologists not only diagnose and treat mental illness in individuals, we can also help improve patients' responses to medical interventions," said Wilcox, a regional behavioral health outcomes and training leader at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena. "Because psychologists are trained to use data and evidence to guide decision-making, we are also involved in research and program development, helping to improve a clinic's ability to treat all its members."
Why did you become a psychologist?
"I was an athlete in college and was struck by the huge role that psychological factors play in athletic performance. That led me to pursue a master's degree in sport psychology, where I discovered my passion for working with children and teens."
How has your knowledge benefited your employer?
"In addition to working with patients and families, I designed and implemented a skills-based treatment program at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles, specifically for children and adolescents with anxiety, and developed a new approach to screening for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."
How well has your doctorate served you?
"A doctorate in psychology has opened the door to so many rewarding aspects in the field of mental healthcare, including research and program evaluation, program development, teaching and working directly with patients."
How are you further enhancing your skills?
"I attend training sessions and conferences regularly and keep up with the current literature on evidence-based practice. Because Kaiser Permanente is such a large organization, I am also very lucky to be able to contribute to our own innovative research projects that contribute to the field of psychology."
What is your message to endeavoring psychologists?
"Being a psychologist offers so many varied, challenging and rewarding opportunities. In order to find their particular passion, I advise aspiring psychologists to get involved in every aspect of the field."
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
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