Sean is currently a behavioral medicine psychologist for Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento, CA.
1. A brief explanation of your experience in Brigham Young University's Psychology Graduate Student Program:
Sean: "I had the great opportunity to major in Psychology at BYU. I later returned to BYU to complete my PhD in Clinical Psychology. My experience as a student allowed me to build knowledge and skills early on related to clinical psychology, and helped to galvanize my interest in helping people. As a psychology major, I often received the message from faculty that becoming a psychologist was a difficult road; however, instead of dissuading me, these voices emboldened me to achieve my dream. Perhaps the greatest experience as an undergraduate was gaining a research traineeship, and then being able to conduct my own research project at the Utah State Hospital. I studied the interventions of the Therapeutic Recreation Program, and even got to go on outdoor excursions as a part of it!"
2. What your post-graduation plans are/were/what are you currently doing:
Sean: "My BYU experience ended in 2015 with my PhD. My current job is as a behavioral medicine psychologist for Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento, CA. One of the quotes from my BYU mentor (Dr. Gary Burlingame) that has been seared into my memory is that "we are here to change clinical practice." This quote came as a type of call-to-arms for me, and in my work since graduating I've strived to fulfill this mission. I've gained expertise in promoting effective use of electronic measure-based outcomes monitoring systems, including Tridiuum and OQ-Analyst (the latter experience was gained at BYU!). In my work I also strive to promote the use of standardized psychosocial process and outcome measures in integrated care, including for medical conditions such as chronic pain, insomnia, and diabetes. And yes, I get to meet new people every day, and help them understand how their psychological and physical functioning interacts. This is exciting, groundbreaking work for many of my patients.
I have also been active in APA division governance since graduate school, and am currently serving on a committee that strategizes advocacy for psychology on a national level."
3. What would be your advice for potential students:
Sean: "For my friends who'd like to become psychologists, I'd advise to get as much experience outside the classroom as possible. Treat your time while in school as always providing the opportunity for learning and growth. Get involved in research, even if it doesn't appeal to you. Help people, any way you can. Find what excites you about the helping professions!
For my friends considering majoring in psychology, I recommend going for it! The knowledge and skills you'll gain as an undergrad can serve as a great jumping-off point for any work you decide to do, in whatever field you decide to pursue.
And for all my student friends, never stop learning. The more you learn, the more marketable you will be, the more valuable you will be."