I am currently employed by Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital as a mental health specialist. I work with a team of nurses, doctors and social workers to implement individual treatment plans for child and adolescent patients in inpatient care. I work with a team to facilitate therapeutic groups, observe and intervene in patient behavior, and document and communicate these observations in medical records and to treatment teams. I also assist with admissions, discharges, activities, and patient and unit searches. In the future, I plan to earn my master’s or doctorate degree so I can continue to have more responsibility with patient care.
The UT Martin Psychology program helped me achieve my position as a mental health specialist in numerous ways. From classes to the various organizations and research, the opportunities at UT Martin were endless. I would attribute most of my success to the psychology professors. All the professors were helpful and genuinely cared for the success of the students, but Dr. MacKewn and Dr. Ostenson were vital in my achievements. Dr. MacKewn always saw the best in me and pushed me to work harder. She always challenged me in her classes, specifically General Psychology, Experimental Psychology, and Learning and Cognition, for which I am very thankful.
Along with learning the material in class, I also learned how to deal with challenges by seeing them as opportunities to grow and learn. With direct patient care, I face challenges at work every day. I worked with Dr. Ostenson in research, which expanded my knowledge and understanding of family dynamics and the thoughts of both parents and children. This has been a great asset to my job as a mental health specialist because my work with children and adolescents includes teaching them strategies to implement changes between family members within the home.
Also, working with Dr. Ostenson as a research assistant and teaching assistant taught me the importance of keeping confidentiality, something I practice every day with our patients. I was also a member and leader of Psi Chi, under the mentorship of Dr. MacKewn. I practiced leadership skills, which have carried over into my job, as I am responsible for leading and maintaining group therapy. I am very thankful to the UTM psychology program for helping me succeed in my professional career journey.
For students who are thinking about becoming UTM psychology majors, I would advise them to prepare themselves to work hard. It's hard work, but it prepares you for your future career. I would tell them that it's a great program and is highly recommended. I would also encourage them to get involved in the organizations that the program offers, such as Psi Chi, because they present many opportunities after graduation. Finally, I would advise them to get to know their professors because they are resourceful and knowledgeable and were my favorite part of the psychology program.